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Timesizing News, August 2015
[Commentary] ©2015 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

8/30-31/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Why we should get three-day weekends all the time, by David Spencer, 8/30 Independent.co.uk
    The idea of working less is feasible and the basis for a better standard of life (photo caption)
    LONDON, U.K. - As we enjoy the August bank holiday and a three-day weekend, it is worth reassessing the amount of time we devote to work. What if all weekends could last for three or even four days? What if the majority of the week could be given over to activities other than work? What if most of our time could be devoted to non-work activities of our own choosing?
    [What if David Spencer realized that shorter worktime and more people working, instead of our current opposite, is a SYSTEM REQUIREMENT for sustainability let alone real economic growth, and not just the lahdeedah lifestyle option he spins it as?]
    To even pose these questions is to invite the criticism of Utopian thinking. While a fine idea in principle, working fewer hours is not feasible in practice. Indeed, its achievement would come at the expense of lower consumption and increased economic hardship.
    [And if Spencer pointed out the connection between fewer hours and more consumer-spenders, compared to more hours and a few more investor-hoarders, he could easily demolish these charges.]
    For some advocates of the work ethic, the route to health and happiness lies with the perpetuation of work, not with its reduction. "Work makes us healthier and happier." Such pro-work ideology is used to legitimate welfare reforms that seek to coerce the non-employed into work, whatever its rates of pay and qualitative features.
    [ie: however low the pay and working conditions]
    It also offers an ideological barrier to the case for spending less time at work. Working less is presented as a threat to our health and happiness, not a means to improve it.
    [Again, focus on shorter hours for more people working and spending and you sidestep all this bloviation.]
    Yet, the idea of working less is not only feasible, it is also the basis for a better standard of life. It is a mark of how we have come to accept work and its dominant influence in our lives that we do not grasp this idea more readily.
    The costs of working more
    A growing number of studies show the human costs of longer working hours. These include lower physical and mental health. Working long hours can add to the risk of having a stroke, coronary heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes.
    By working most of the time, we also lose time with family and friends. And more than this, we lose the ability to be and do things that make life valuable and worth living. Our lives are often too much tied up in the work we do that we have little time and energy to find alternative ways of living – in short, our capacity to realise our talents and potential is curtailed by the work we do. Work does not set us free, rather it hems us in and makes it more difficult to realise ourselves.
    [And how about pulling off the gloves, David, and just observing that critics are like slaves who love their chains, love have someone else tell them what to do, have no lives of their own and want company in their misery so no one shows them up for the masochists they are. As for "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets us free), recall that that was the motto on the gate to a Nazi death camp. The real most-basic freedom is job-secure free time. That is the entropy dump we should be using instead of continually slowing our economy by using the super-rich as dumps for higher and higher percentages of the money supply, thanks to continually heightening our labor surplus and lowering our general wage levels with a downsizing response (cutting the workforce and consumer base) to technology instead of a "timesizing" response (cutting the workweek and maintaining the workforce and consumer base, cutting the ww deeper and growing the wf&cb).]
    All this speaks to the need to work less. We should challenge the work ethic and promote alternative ways of living that are less work-centred. And, if this reduction of time spent at work is focused on eliminating drudge work, then we can also better realise the internal benefits of work itself. Working less may be a means not only to work better but also to enjoy life more.
    Barriers to less work
    Technological progress has advanced continuously over the past century, pushing up productivity. But not all the gains in productivity have fed through to shorter work hours. At least in modern times, these gains have been used to increase the returns of the owners of capital, often at the cost of flatlining pay for workers.
    [Ohoh, he's letting obsolete leftist-vs-rightist jargon creep in here, and that controversy is totally and completely obsolete and irrelevant. The right wants no regulations (unless they're in its favor, which soon slopes the playing field against consumers). The left wants any regulations which soon turn into many regulations - if it squeaks, regulate it! - and becomes a burgeoning maximum of stifling details. What economic designers and worktime economists are looking for is a stable minimum of liberating generalities, ideally just one = a single all-sufficient regulation that allows the safe dismantling of all the others.]
    The lack of progress in reducing time spent at work in modern capitalist economies [that's all there are now, David, haven't you noticed? PLS. cut the distracting and obsolete leftist name-calling] reflects instead the influence of ideology as well as of power. On the one hand, the effects of consumerism have created powerful forces in favour of longer working hours. Workers are constantly persuaded to buy more and in turn are drawn into working more, to keep up with the latest fad or fashion and to stay ahead of their peers.
    [And it would even help if you used neutral terms like "employees" and "decision makers" or "top brackets" or "power elite" instead of fighting words like "workers" and "ruling class" and "owners of capital"...]
    On the other hand, the weakened power of labour relative to capital [oy, not again] has created an environment that has suited the extension of work time. The recent exposé of work practices at Amazon speaks to the power of capital in imposing poor working conditions, including excessive work hours, on workers. The effects of rising inequality has also fed a long-work-hours culture by increasing the economic necessity to work more.
    David Graeber makes the provocative claim that technology has advanced at the same time as what he calls “bullshit” or pointless jobs have multiplied. This is why we have not realised Keynes' prediction that we’d all be working 15-hour weeks in the 21st century, as a result of technological progress.
    [All this was predicted in Arthur Dahlberg's 1932 book, "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism" from an early worktime economics viewpoint.]
    Instead, we are living in a society where work gets created that is of no social value. The reason for this, according to Graeber, is the need of the ruling class [oy, can we please avoid the cliches?] to keep workers in work. While technology with the potential to reduce work time exists, the political challenge of a working population with time on its hands makes the ruling class unwilling to realise this potential. Working less, while feasible and desirable, is blocked by political factors.
    Working for change
    The costs of long work hours, as mentioned above, are poorer health and lower well-being for workers. But for employers too there are costs in terms of lower productivity and lower profitability. Yet these costs seem to go unnoticed despite evidence pointing to their existence. Here again politics may explain why shorter work time has not been embraced by many employers.
    Experiments in shorter working exist, to be sure. Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing retailer, is to allow its employees to work a four day week. This has been widely reported in a positive way. Workers will benefit from a better work-life balance, while the firm will reap the benefits of lower labour costs due to lower turnover costs.
    Yet, on closer inspection, the new scheme to be introduced by Uniqlo has its downsides. In return for a four-day working week, workers will be expected to work ten-hour shifts during the days they work (a 40-hour working week will be squeezed into four days).
    This is not only an extension to the normal length of the working day; it also puts at risk the potential rewards of working four days in the week. Workers may be so exhausted after working a four-day work week they need a full day to recover from their previous exertions. In this case, their quality of work and life may not be enhanced at all; indeed it may be diminished, if they suffer the ill-effects of overwork.
    Ironically, schemes such as the one to be introduced by Uniqlo illustrate the obstacles that remain in achieving less work. Only a reduction in the working week to 30 hours or less can be seen as genuine progress in the achievement of shorter work time.
    [And 30 hours was the appropriate level for the workweek way back in 1933 when the U.S. Senate passed the Black Thirty Hour Work Week Bill by a huge majority.]
    For us to reach – and enjoy – a three or ideally a four-day weekend, we need to reimagine society in ways that subvert the prevailing work ethic.
    [Now we're getting into smart-ass bumper sticker land: "Subvert the dominant paradigm" etc. Can we please stop evoking resistance here?!]
    We need to embrace the idea of working less as a means to a life well lived. We need to reject the way of living that sees work as the be-all-and-end-all of life.
    So enjoy the bank holiday while you can.
    [Nice veiled threat here: If things continue to deteriorate in terms of mounting labor surplus, more people are going to be working right through current holidays.]
    See it as a reminder of a life that could be – a life that we should seek to achieve, by resolving to overcome the barriers, economic as well as ideological and political, to working less.
    David Spencer is Professor of Economics and Political Economy at University of Leeds
    This article was originally published on The Conversation.

  2. French prime minister vows to deepen economic reform, by Adam Thomson, 8/30 CDA News via ft.com
    LA ROCHELLE, France - Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, has pledged to deepen the government’s economic reforms, promising to “revise thoroughly” the country’s labour laws to give more flexibility to employers and wage earners.
    Speaking at his Socialist party’s annual conference in the Atlantic port of La Rochelle, Mr Valls described France’s existing work code as “so complex that it has become inefficient: curbed activity; wage earners who no longer know their rights”.
    Before flag-waving party faithful, his white shirt dripping with sweat, Mr Valls said: “We have to give more latitude to employers, to wage earners and to their representatives so that they can decide for themselves.”
    Among other things, he said the reforms would mean “more flexibility for companies”.
    His comments, which wrapped up two days of debate among Socialist party members, will doubtless be warmly received by the country’s private sector, which has long complained that labour regulations are too rigid.
    The prime minister’s remarks also come at a particularly testing time for President François Hollande’s government, which is battling to reinvigorate a stubbornly sluggish economy and reduce unemployment, which remains at near-record highs.
    In response, Mr Hollande has adopted more business-friendly proposals in an effort to get the economy going. But the tack has also deepened divisions on the left.
    Days earlier, Emmanuel Macron, economy minister, had riled many party members as he appeared to criticise France’s 35-hour week — a sacred cow for the left.
    Speaking to France’s Medef employers’ federation, Mr Macron said the left in France had thought at one time that “politics was done against businesses, or at least without them”. To rapturous cheers, he added: “It thought that France would do better by working less.”
    But the prime minister said the forthcoming reforms would not touch the 35-hour week.
    “That debate is closed,” said Mr Valls, who, according to one opinion poll on Sunday is ahead of Mr Hollande as the figure leftwing sympathisers would most like to see run as the Socialist candidate for the 2017 presidential election. “What interests me is not the past but the future.”

    In a long and wide-ranging speech that touched on Europe’s migration crisis, terrorism and the environment, as France prepares to host the Paris climate summit in December, Mr Valls said the government would lower taxes next year.
    Avoiding specific details, the Spanish-born prime minister said the government would propose a cut in income tax for households in the 2016 budget, to complement reductions that were already in place.
    He said 9m middle-class and working-class households were already benefiting from reduced tax bills, which had meant, on average, savings of €300.
    Mindful of regional elections at the end of this year — the last electoral contest before parties compete for the presidency in 2017 — Mr Valls urged Socialist party members to unite.
    But he also warned the party that it had to be “inventive” and “adapt itself to the realities of the world”.

8/29/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Macron and the 35-hour workweek: The controversy in four acts, (8/28 late pickup) L' Express via lexpansion.lexpress.fr
    PARIS, France - Faced with the outcry over his remarks about the "misconceptions" of the left in relation to worktime, the Minister of the Economy finished with self-justification. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis [French Socialist Party Secretary] wants to calm things down, while the right stirs things up.
    Even without an invitation to the meeting there, he still electrified La Rochelle. In referring to the "misconceptions" of the left on worktime, Emmanuel Macron revived the eternal debate on the 35-hour workweek. Blurting premeditated or not, this is not the first time that the Minister of Economy has whacked the left of the Socialist Party [SP] on this theme. L'Express will replay the controversy step by step:
    Act 1: Macron lights the fuse alongside Gattaz [Pierre Gattaz, pres. of MEDEF = Mouvement des Entreprises DE France = Movement of the Enterprises of France = French Business Owners' Assoc. - another naive businessmen's assoc. that assumes someone else will fund their customers (and if it's taxpayers, they decline to be among them)]
    On Thursday, the Minister of the Economy mounted the rostrum of the Summer University of MEDEF. Faced with bosses, Emmanuel Macron makes a hit with a pique that the left fringe of SP still has trouble digesting. If he called upon bosses to take up their responsibilities in terms of employment, he also declared that "The left (was) not exempt from particular complaints... It was able to believe for a moment, long ago, that politics was done against corporations, or at least even without them. (...) That France could work better by working less. These were false ideas."
    [Not when the invisible hand is working in reverse and corporations in their narrow and short-sighted self-interest are concentrating and insulating power, coagulating the money supply and slowing the economy!]
    Move a policy in 2015 to reform and set the country in motion. - Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 27, 2015
    Working less, a direct reference to the 35-hour workweek for his detractors. This is not the first time that the Minister of the Economy has criticized like this the worktime reform implemented by the Jospin government. Last year, he did the same in an interview with Le Point.
    Act 2: The left of the SP gets mad
    After these statements, several members of the SP emerged from their silence. The most vehement was Yann Galut, without much doubt. The MP from the Cher riding sees nothing less than a form of insult toward "Jaurès, Blum, François Mitterrand, Lionel Jospin and Martine Aubry."
    [Then why doesn't he whack Hollande for leaving him in office?]
    Christian Paul, ringleader of the slingshotters, did not pull his punches. "I realized Nicolas Sarkozy was back but I didn't think he was back in government."
    Act 3: Valls calms the game, backs Macron
    The government would probably have preferred to be spared a new controversy over the 35 hours. At La Rochelle, it is definitely time for political debate in the Socialist ranks. This Friday, Manuel Valls finally cut the grass under the feet of the Minister of Labour [ie: the Economy = Macron?] by excluding any worktime reform. A reframing in good order and due time. "The French have nothing to do with the controversies that pull toward the past. There will be no reconsideration in the matter of worktime or the 35 hours. (...) The real issues are employment and growth. Little digs just stir up trouble in public life." It remains to know whether the Prime Minister is really in disagreement with his minister. In 2011, he spoke of the need to unlock the 35 hours...
    [So maybe the real mole is Hollande.]
    [Recall] @manuelvalls in January 2011: "We must go beyond the issue of 35 hours Yes, we will unlock the 35 hours." - Hugues Bastien (@bastienhugues) August 28, 2015
    The message was visibly expressed at Bercy. In the process, the Minister of the Economy in effect gave an assurance that he would not challenge the 35 hours before the employers who had come to listen to him at Jouy-en-Josas. In a statement sent to AFP, he thus declared that he would rather speak of "rapport with work." We need more, not less. This is the finest combat of the left, for work is the engine of individual emancipation."
    [Nevermind St. Paul's view, "For by grace are ye saved by faith. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast!" Some slaves just LOVE their chains!]
    Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, First Secretary of the SP, promised to have a talk with him, "a friendly discussion, frank and definitive on a certain number of subjects." For him, "the matter is closed." He calls instead on his comrades to stay "calm and serene" and not fall "into all the traps." "I say to all Socialists that they are not obliged to fall into all the traps, especially provocations that are sometimes repeated. Obviously if everytime someone voices a position against his own party or his government we overreact, we participate in the fragmentation (of the left, editor's note)."
    Act 4: The right stirs it up
    Inevitably, these fundamental diverigences have for happiness among the champions of the opposition. Some denounced the cacophony reigning in Socialist ranks. Others congratulate the Minister of the Economy, inviting him to carry through to his logical conclusion. Or even propose "political asylum" for him.
    Darmanin on #Macron: "One is tempted to offer him political asylum." #itele - Emmanuel Berretta (@Eberretta) August 28, 2015
    Posture or conviction? If @EmmanuelMacron wants to be credible, then he still has nearly 2 years to suppress the 35 hours - http://t.co/SQQtyHFDyw - Thierry Mariani? (@ThierryMARIANI) August 28, 2015
    If Macron manages to move where we failed (on the 35 hours) it is our duty to help him. What matters is the future of the country - Jean Arthuis (@JeanArthuis) August 28, 2015
    The cacophony around the 35 hours is a new symptom of the amateurism which has marked from beginning to end the five-year term of FH [François Hollande] - Eric Ciotti ? (ECiotti) August 28, 2015
    [Again we ask, why is the SP putting up with this subtle sabotage from the top, their president? Do all modern presidents have to be as stupid as Dubya and Harperman?]

  2. France working hours to be reviewed by national assembly, by Shirley Good, CDA News via cdanews.com
    PARIS, France - The Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron criticized the 35-hour workweek, saying that French people are wrong to suppose that fewer working hours lead to an improved lifestyle.
    [Again, an economist's attempt to deny the obvious.]
    Macron, "a former banker," has created a great deal of consternation with his remarks.
    It is not the first time the Minister has voiced his feelings on this matter. He said the same thing over a year ago. But this time his comments have led to anger with many French newspapers, "splashing" his words across their front pages.
    [Exactly what this kind of publicity hound wants!]
    Using a play on words, he commented on the French working hours, saying, "One shouldn't ask what your country can do for you, rather what you can do for your country's economy," reports TheLocal.Fr.
    The 35-hour workweek is doggedly [or enlightenedly?] supported by the majority of French people who argue that the "flagship policy" created by the leftwing government encourages "companies to take on more staff." However, critics argue that the policy is "inflexible" and hampers businesses.
    [Not as much as weaker consumer spending hampers businesses!]
    It also created a "bloated workforce."
    [But a bloated consumer base is OK, right? And you don't get a bloated consumer base without a "bloated" workforce!]
    Certainly, for people visiting the country for the first time, French working hours seem peculiar.
    [No they don't. Thousands of American businesses have cut below THIRTY hours to avoid Obamacare premiums. Thousands more have had 35-hour workweeks for decades, including industries like insurance and academe. Wall Street itself had 37.5-hour workweeks for clerks IN THE 1960s. This is just more of the totally insane France-bashing of idiot Brit & Yank economists. BORING! France has higher productivity than kurzarbeiting Germany, and both have higher productivity than inefficient mindless workaholic no-life Puritans of the UK and US.]
    Closing shop for as long as two or even three hours for lunch seems a strange way to conduct a business.
    [Not if the hours are clearly posted and kept. And check out the siesta-friendly schedule of Spain. And ever heard of shifts?]
    Manuel Vallis [sic; it's actually Valls], the French Prime Minister, assured the French that there were to be no changes to the 35-hour workweek, but rather "the real issues are employment and growth."
    [Well the inflexible 40-hour workweek of UK and US is a major damper on employment and growth.]
    Taking a verbal swipe at Macron, he added, "Small comments harm public life."
    [I like my translation better: "Little digs just stir up trouble in public life."]
    According to French labour laws, the legfal number of hours for the workweek is 35. This applies to all businesses and "all types of companies." Also, the workday should not exceed 10 hours. The law also stipulates that employees should work no longer than 4.5 hours without a break. For a company to exceed the number of hours stipulated for a workday, there must be a collective agreement, Expatica reported.
    For many French people, the commitment to a 35-hour workweek ensures work/life balance. Trade unions in France argue that French workhours maintain work/life balance and enable families to reconcile family life with work commitments.
    The flexibility [ie: brevity?] of worktime in France also allows employees to take time off to engage in professional training, hobbies and education. The 35-hour workweek law was introduced in 2000. It makes France one of the few countries where workers have above-average leisure time on an average workday.
    It's not uncommon for workers in France to have "approximately 15 hours per day [which is] dedicated to personal care and leisure (eating and sleeping etc.)," reports Business.org. Having said this, evidence also suggests that many French workers actually work up to 39.5 hours per week, which is only "slightly under the EU average of 40.3 hours."
    Macron was drafted into Hollande's liberal government to "shake up the rigid labour market."
    [Make up your mind: is it flexible as 5 paragraphs above, or rigid?]
    It seems he may have a fight on his hands if he toys with French working hours.

8/28/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. France's economy minister stumbles on 35-hour-week, again, AFP via news.yahoo.com
    PARIS, France - France's divisive economy minister has once again made waves among Socialists by criticising the country's sacrosanct 35-hour week just as the ruling party gathers for its annual conference.
    Emmanuel Macron, a 37-year-old former investment banker whose appointment last year created a stir among the leftist rebel rump of the party, told a gathering of business leaders that those on the left were not "exempt from criticism."
    "A long time ago, the left believed... that France would be better off if people worked less. That was a wrong idea," he said Thursday, in a thinly-veiled criticism of the 35-hour law introduced under the government of former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
    Supporters say the flagship policy of the French left creates jobs by limiting the amount of time employees are allowed to work, thereby encouraging companies to take on more staff.
    [And indeed, before the 35-hr week was voted in in 1997, unemployment reached 12.6%, but once it was fully implemented in spring 2001, unemployment came down to 8.6% = one percent for each of the four hours cut from the workweek starting from 39 = same results as the U.S. got between 1938 and 1940 going from 44 to 40 hrs/wk at 2hrs/yr cut, unemployment going 19.0%,17.2%, 14.6% in 1938,39,40.]
    But critics at home and abroad say it is an inflexible law that hampers business and creates a bloated workforce.
    Socialist leaders were quick to bring Macron back into line Friday, just as the annual party conference opened in the western coastal city of La Rochelle.
    Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the 35-hour week would not be reformed.
    "The real issues are employment and growth. Small comments harm public life," he added, while Macron himself said he was not talking specifically about the 35-hour week but of work in general.
    This is not the first time that the clean-cut former Rothschild banker has irritated Socialists who see his appointment as a shift to the right for the government.
    Just one day into his job in August last year, he kicked off a political firestorm with comments about... the 35-hour week.
    "We could allow companies and sectors... to depart from the rules on working time and pay," Macron told Le Point weekly.
    He later described France as being "sick."
    Then he created a package of reforms aimed at reviving France's stuttering economy, which proved so controversial that Valls used a rare constitutional procedure to force the bill through parliament in February.
    The reforms, which include extending the number of Sundays shops can stay open and freeing up certain sectors of the economy, were finally adopted by parliament last month.

  2. Working hour regulations, by Nizar Kochery, Gulf-Times.com
    DOHA, Qatar - QUESTION: A civil engineer, I have been working as the contracts administrator with a local company. I have just been transferred to a new project where we have to work for a minimum of 10 hours a day, six days week, excluding a one-hour lunch break. The project is 30km away from the city; it takes one hour to reach the site. I will be away from home almost 13 hours a day. The company is forcing us to work for 10 hours. We work like machines without rest and cannot give time to our family. I have a nine- month-old baby with whom I rarely can spend time together. Is there any law where work hours are regulated to a minimum of eight hours a day?
    GPN, Doha
    ANSWER: According to Article 76 of the Labour Laws, provisions of Articles 73,74 and 75 (working hours, overtime and weekly rest days) of the law are not applicable on those working in senior positions, provided such positions bear the same authorities as that of the employer. List of such positions are not specified in the law.
    On working hours, Article 73 stipulates that the maximum working hours shall be eight hours a day or 48 hours a week with the exception of the month of Ramadan when the maximum working hours shall be 36 hours per month at the rate of six hours per day. The time spent in transportation to and from the place of work and residence shall not form part of the working hours.
    The law prohibits engaging worker continuously for more than five hours without a break. The working hours shall include an interval of 1 to 3 hours for prayer, food, etc. The intervals shall not be taken into consideration in calculating the working hours.
    For additional working hours, worker will be entitled for overtime wage of the basic wage plus not less than 25% thereof. For work between 9pm and 6am shall be paid the basic wage plus not less than 50% thereof with the exception of the shift workers.
    Compensation for loss incurred
    Q: I have been engaged in procurement business from 2011. Some of my clients are not properly settling the dues even after repeated demands. I have all the documents to prove the payments that are due. Can the court claim for compensation for damages occurred due to such dues? Is any provision in the law prohibits such claims? In some cases there is arbitration in Qatar under LCA procedures following Qatar Laws. If we do the Arbitration in Qatar (not outside Qatar), does this require any formality for execution Qatar and where we appeal?
    PJ, Doha
    A: Nothing in Qatar’s laws prohibits in claiming compensation for loss incurred. Article 268 of the Qatar civil law stipulates that if the obligation is the payment of money and the obligor fails to make such payment after being notified and provided that, the obligee proves the incurred damages due to such non-payment, the court may order the obligor to pay indemnity, subject to the requirements of justice.
    With regard to enforcement of Arbitration Award, as per Article 204 of the relevant Qatar Laws, either party may make an application to the relevant court for an order from the enforcement judge.
    The award of the arbitrators shall not be executable unless by virtue of an order issued by the court. The judge shall issue appropriate orders for execution after perusing the award and the arbitration document. The order will be appended to the award subject to the judge validating the award. Accordingly, the local courts are required to ratify any foreign or domestic arbitral award for the purpose of execution. Article 205 of the Civil Procedure Code stipulates that leave for appeal is subject to the same rules as an appeal against a court decision.
    Any appeal must be lodged at the competent Court of Appeal within 15 days from the date that the original copy of the arbitration award is deposited with the Court having jurisdiction over the dispute.
    Rental dispute settlement
    Q: I stay in Doha with my family in an apartment and we all tenants have some disputes with my property owner. The property owner has stopped receiving the rent. He is asking us to vacate the premises immediately. I have a valid lease contract up to September 2016. What is the solution if the lessor is not accepting the rent? Shall we approach the court for rental disputes?
    VC, Doha
    A: As per Rental law, rent must be paid within seven days from its due date. In instances where the landlord refuses to accept the rent, the tenant can pay the rent to the Rental Committee and inform the landlord of such by registered post.
    Non-payment of rentals within the time stipulated is a sufficient reason for the Landlord to get the lease contract terminated.
    Rental dispute settlement committee exercises jurisdiction over rental disputes. The decisions of this committee may be appealed to the Court of Appeal within 15 days. While calculating the days the date of decision is included.
    Please send your questions by e-mail to: leges@qatar.net.qa (Mobile:55813105)
    Legal system in Qatar
    The drawer of the bill of exchange or the person in whose favour the bill of exchange is drawn shall provide drawee funds for payment thereof. However, a drawer in favour of another person shall continue to be personally liable towards the endorsers and holders of the bill of exchange to the exclusion of others. As per Article 482, the consideration is presumed if, at the date of maturity of bill of exchange, the drawee is a debtor to the drawer or person to whose account the bill is drawn for certain amount of money payable or equal at least to the amount of the bill of exchange.
    Acceptance of the bill of exchange shall constitute presumption of the existence of consideration with the acceptor for payment. Such evidence is irrebuttable in the relationship between the drawee and the holder. The onus of proof lies solely on the drawer to prove in the case of denial, whether or not the bill of exchange has been accepted, that the consideration has moved to the drawee at the time of maturity of the bill of exchange. If fails to establish, he shall be liable for payment, even after the legally specified time.
    According to Article 484, the successive holders of the bill of exchange shall acquire the ownership by operation of the law. If the consideration is less than the value of the bill, the bill holder shall be entitled to all rights for a full consideration of the payment. This provision shall apply only if the consideration is a disputed debt, uncertain or debt not due on maturity of the bill.
    The drawer shall deliver the holder of bill all documents necessary to obtain the payment, even after the legally specified time to protest. If the drawer is declared bankrupt, such obligation shall be assured by the trustee and all related expenses shall be borne by the holder of bill of exchange in all cases.
    As per Article 486, if the drawer declared bankrupt, before the maturity date, the holder alone, without the other creditors of the drawer, shall recieve his rightful compensation of the payment, which was duly maintained by the drawee. If the drawee becomes bankrupt while consideration is debt due from him, such debt shall be made part of the assets of the bankruptcy. If the drawer is in possession of goods, commercial papers, securities, or other funds, which belongs to the drawee that may be recovered in accordance with the rules for bankruptcy, and if such assets were explicitly or implicitly maintained for payment of the bill of exchange, the holder shall have priority in receiving from its value.
    If several of bills of exchange have been drawn against a consideration insufficient to satisfy all of them, the sequence of the dates on each bill has been drawn shall be observed in determining the rights of holders to payment of their debts out of available funds.
    The priority shall be given to the holder of the bill of exchange of an earlier date. If the bills of exchange are drawn on the same date, the priority shall be given to the bill that holds the acceptance of the drawee. If none of the bill of exchange carries the acceptance of the drawee, the bill, which the consideration was provided, shall have priority. However, bills of exchange that contain a condition of non-acceptance shall rank in the last position.

8/27/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Flexible Work Act, by Gonnie Kruize, Eversheds LLP via Lexology.com
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands - As of 1 January 2016 a new act called ‘Wet flexibel werken’ (“Flexible Work Act”) will enter into force. The purpose of this new Act is to support the combination of work and private life.
    Amendment of the Dutch Working Hours (Adjustment) Act (‘Wet aanpassing arbeidsduur’)
    Currently employees can only file a request for amendment (increase or reduction) of their working hours. The applicable conditions are included in the Dutch Working Hours (Adjustment) Act. The Dutch Working Hours (Adjustment) Act will be amended when the new Act will enter into force [takes effect] and employees will be entitled to file a request with the employer for all forms of flexible working. As of 1 January 2016 employees [will] have the right to file a request with the employer for amendment of their working hours, working times and workplace.
    [Uh, isn't this making a mountain out of a mole hill? Can't they already make such requests without "making a federal case" out of each of them?]
    Right to file a request
    The employee has a right to file a request with the employer. This, however, does not mean that the employer is obliged to follow the request. The employer retains the right to refuse the requested amendment of the working hours or working time in case of substantial business interests (which are specified in further detail in the new Act). An employer is obliged to consult with the employee before denying a request for amendment of the working place (for example a request to work from home). In all cases the employer is obliged to inform the employee on his decision in writing, stating the reasons in case the request of the employee is denied.
    Time limits
    The new Act reduces a few time limits which currently are included the Dutch Working Hours (Adjustment) Act:
    • at present an employee must submit the request four months prior to the desired starting date. The new Act reduces this to two months;
    • furthermore, at present an employee can only submit a request with the employer after an employment of at least one year. As of 1 January 2016 this period of service will be reduced to six months; and
    • under current law an employee must wait two years after a denial or approval of a request before he is allowed to file a new request. This time limit will be shortened to one year.
      [How is this not a massive unnecessary multiplication of red tape?]
    The new Act is not applicable for [to] employees who fall under the scope of a collective labour agreement which [already] includes provisions for flexible working. However, this [exception] does not apply for [to] a request for [a] reduction of the [in] working hours. Furthermore, the new Act only applies for [to] employers who employ more than ten employees.

  2. Dayton to offer paid parental leave, (8/26 late pickup) DaytonDailyNews.com
    DAYTON, Ohio, USA — Dayton will begin offering paid parental leave city employees as a way to attract and keep young talent, Mayor Nan Whaley announced at a press conference Wednesday morning.
    Some key points from Whaley:
    • Dayton lagged behind others in providing leave
    • The policy will make Dayton more family friendly.
    • The policy is available to permanent full-time and part-time employees who work at least 35 hours a week.
    • City previously provided no paid leave
    The city of Dayton will start offering paid parental leave to its employees, a change aimed partly at attracting and retaining young talent to the organization.
    Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced the new employee benefits at a press conference this morning.
    She said city employees, especially women, could use some help from their employer balancing their work and personal lives.
    “We had a way lower paid-parental leave than even the state of Ohio, so we made changes to be more family-friendly here,” Whaley said during an interview.
    The city did not have any paid parental leave.
    Employees could seek time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows workers to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks and know their jobs are protected while they are gone.
    But city employees who called off [ie: called in to take time off?] would have to use their vacation or sick days, otherwise they would not be paid.
    Under the city’s new policy, employees who legally adopt a new child or have a natural birth will have a 14-calendar-day waiting period, during which time they will have to use their sick time, vacation or not be paid for missing work.
    But after 14 days, the city will give workers 70 percent of their salaries for the next 28 calendar days. Or workers can receive 100 percent of their pay by supplementing their checks with vacation or sick time.
    The policy applies to permanent full-time and part-time employees who work at at least 35 hours per week.
    It also will allow employees to use unpaid leave without first having to deplete their paid leave.
    [Good that a 35-hour workweek is taken as "full time" despite the many US economists who sneer at France, but bad that this is basically a subsidy for reproduction during an age of overpopulation and thence whole-system desustainabilization.]

    Some city employees are in relationships with co-workers and other city staff. Previously, only one member of the household was allowed to take leave after a birth or adoption. The new policy will allow both partners to take time off.
    “We want to encourage shared responsibilities for men and women, both at home and at work, because frankly that helps women stay in the workforce, it helps our workforce and it helps people reach their full potential and abilities to their job performance and home performance,” Whaley said.

8/26/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. 'Chômage partiel' [alias worksharing]: Ten companies to reduce working hours for employees, by CS, Luxemburger Wort - English Edition via wort.lu/en
    LUXEMBOURG CITY, Luxembourg - Ten companies in Luxembourg will reduce working hours for employees in September, as part of a cost cutting measure supported by the state.
    Businesses based in the Grand Duchy finding themselves in financial difficulties can apply for the so-called “chômage partiel” scheme on a monthly basis. It allows them to reduce labour costs by cutting working hours. The state compensates workers for lost wages.

    In August, 11 companies applied for the scheme with 10 of them granted their request. Out of a total of 1,273 people they employ, 589 will work reduced hours next month. The Luxembourg state is expected to spend 786,000 euros on the programme in September.
    This marks a reduction compared to August, when 679 employees worked reduced hours, with the state budgeting 800,000 euros on the scheme.
    Overall, the development of companies placing workers on partial unemployment has been positive since the start of the year, compared to the previous year. Throughout 2014, number reduced, but then further plummeted at the start of this year.
    While there has been some fluctuation over the first half of 2015, overall the number of workers affected by the programme has reduced considerably, with the Economy Ministry earlier this year saying that this was a sign of economic recovery. Loading infographic
    The next meeting of the economic committee which evaluates “chômage partiel” applications is scheduled for September 25, when numbers for October will be announced.

  2. Standard Working Hours Committee holds 14th meeting, 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, China - The following is issued on behalf of the Standard Working Hours Committee:
    The Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC) held its 14th meeting today (August 26).
    The Chairperson of the SWHC, Dr Leong Che-hung, said after the meeting, "On the basis of the previous discussions of the SWHC, and with reference to the findings of the dedicated working hours survey as well as the public engagement and consultation on working hours, the SWHC has agreed in principle to recommend a legislative approach to implement a policy relating to working hours of employees. Having regard to the varied circumstances of different trades and occupations, the SWHC considers that a working hours policy should provide the necessary flexibility and hence an 'across-the-board' legislative approach would be inappropriate. The SWHC has agreed in principle to recommend a legislative approach to mandatorily require employers and employees in general to enter into written employment contracts specifying clearly such terms relating to working hours, e.g. the number of working hours, overtime work arrangements and methods of overtime compensation (i.e. the 'big frame').
    "At the meeting today, in respect of the 'big frame', the SWHC members have further deliberated proposed working hours employment terms including contractual working hours, meal and rest breaks, rest day arrangements, wage rates, overtime work arrangements and methods of overtime compensation, etc, which must be specified in written employment contracts, and other relevant issues such as scope of application and exemption, definition of working hours and consequences of non-compliance. With reference to the suggestions of the SWHC members, the secretariat will work on the detailed design and content of the 'big frame'.
    "In addition, on the premise of the 'big frame', the SWHC is preliminarily exploring the possibility of considering other suitable measure(s) to further protect grass-roots employees with lower income, lower skills and less bargaining power (i.e. the 'small frame'). The SWHC has received a briefing by the secretariat on the impact assessment results of various combinations of parameters on employees and enterprises (particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)). As for the impacts on employees, while some of them may enjoy a pay rise as a result of the standard working hours and possibly a higher overtime pay rate, other employees may bear some risks of pay cuts should their hours of work be reduced.
    [= a masterpiece of say-nothing-do-nothing bloviation when Hong Kong could be showing Beijing how to construct a workers' paradise à la capitalisme via employer-perceived labor "shortage," more job-secure free time, ergo rising wages and spending, stronger marketable productivity and stable investment.]
    At the enterprise level, impacts on different sectors vary. The impacts would fall more heavily on the relatively long-working-hours sectors, with their potential increases in wage bills larger and affordability possibly lower as compared to other sectors. The increases in wage bills are mainly found in SMEs in some sectors, while those enterprises possibly turning from profit to loss due to the rise in wage bills are also mainly SMEs." (Key findings are in the Appendix.)
    "At the macro level, employers may need to hire more staff to meet manpower needs if their employees' hours of work are reduced to standard working hours.
    This may in turn exacerbate the prevailing manpower shortage and cause a wage-inflation upward spiral.
    "At the next meeting, the SWHC will further discuss the feasibility of the 'big frame' and focus on exploring the impacts of the 'small frame' on the medium- and long-term macroeconomic situation, such as inflation, labour market flexibility, manpower requirements and Hong Kong's longer-term competitiveness."
    Dr Leong added, "In contemplating a working hours policy, the SWHC will carefully consider various factors including employees' overtime work situation, as well as the possible impacts of the SWHC's recommendations on employees, employers, enterprises (particularly SMEs), trades, the overall economy and the labour market with a view to building community consensus and formulating appropriate and feasible working hours policy options.
    "The SWHC also plans to further consult major employer associations, major labour organisations, relevant trades and professional bodies, etc, on preliminary recommendations on working hours policy directions to be suggested later, so as to collect views for the SWHC's reference in preparing its report.
    "The secretariat has also uploaded the two consultancy reports on the public consultation on working hours and the dedicated working hours survey undertaken by the SWHC last year to the SWHC website (www.swhc.org.hk/en/resources/index.html). Members of the public are welcome to browse the reports."
    Chaired by Dr Leong, the SWHC comprises members drawn from the labour and business sectors, academia, the community and the Government. For details, please refer to the SWHC website (www.swhc.org.hk).
    Source: HKSAR Government
    [And then come the scare tactics -]
    Up to 7000 SMEs will slip into red with standard working hours, humanresourcesonline.net
    [And how many more would be created because of the additional domestic consumer spending?]
    Bill for standard working hours in Hong Kong could hit HK$10 billion, says committee report - Firms could face bill of HK$103m, or up to HK$10b, according to findings, South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    [And how much more would be saved on healthcare and how many additional reliable profits from more job-secure free time = the most basic freedom, and more domestic spending?]
    [Note South Africa's contrasting question -]
    Flexible working hours could add R17bn to S.Africa’s economy, cnbcafrica.com

8/25/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. “Kurzarbeit” approved in the Czech Republic, (8/24 late pickup) CMS Law-Now via cms-lawnow.com
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Kurzarbeit (also known as “short-time work”) will be implemented into the Czech legal system following a recent amendment to the Act on Employment being approved by Parliament and signed by the President on 4 August 2015. The precise effective date of the Bill is not yet known, however, it will not be any later than 1 January 2016.
    Contribution amount
    Under the new law, companies that are struggling as a result of financial difficulty or have been affected by natural disasters have the power to reduce the salaries of employees who cannot be assigned sufficient work by up to 30%. In addition, the companies now have the opportunity to seek a contribution of up to 20% of the affected employee´s salary from the state. The law envisages further caps on the state contribution: in particular, the contribution must not exceed 12,5% of the average wage in the Czech Republic, set out in the first three quarters of the previous calendar year.
    Application requirements
    Companies wishing to receive a contribution from the state will have to apply for such grant and each application must be approved by the Czech government. The financial aid to the companies will be provided for six months and this term can generally only repeated once. The Czech government does, however, have scope to provide longer term-support, however this will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

  2. The 35 hour week – myth or panacea? by Brett Sadler, WordPress.com
    SPRINGFIELD, Ohio, USA - First things first. The title of this post could have said 38 or 40 hours – whatever someone’s contracted hours are. The point of the post though, is whether the idea of working your ‘core’ or contracted hours only is something to be aspire achieving or not [sic].
    We’ve all heard of people working crazy hours. I recently saw a post on LinkedIn joking that ‘oh, so you work a 39 hour week? I also remember my first part time job’. This was (hopefully) meant as a joke, but the thought process behind it isn’t. Some organisations and managers expect a lot from their staff and this often translated to working a lot more hours than contracted to do.
    Take the current organisation I work for. As a not-for-profit Housing Association, we have pretty good working arrangements. Full time staff are contracted to work 35 hours a week and over a four week period we can take a further 7 hours flexi time (equivalent to one extra day) off a month. We can also carry over an extra 7 hours per month to the following timesheet. This is a pretty generous arrangement. But, it could be argued that encouraging staff to work to build up sufficient time to build up their flexitime means we are encouraging staff to work over their contracted hours.
    Then there is the long standing issue of how many extra hours is acceptable. I have always thought that the more senior the post you are in, the more you are expected to work longer hours (as you get paid to do this). I have also thought that for any staff who are really career focussed, then they want to show that they work really hard, which often translates to working longer hours. But I do find myself questioning this train of thought sometimes. The more we rationalise the number of hours extra we can work (i.e under 5 hours a week is acceptable, over 5 hours isn’t), the more we are not making it as flexible an arrangement as we are aiming for it to be.
    So what’s the answer? I do think there is a conversation to be had in every organisation about what constitutes an acceptable number of hours worked. The organisational culture to some extent dictates this.
    Many months ago I made the conscious decision not to send out any Emails in the evenings and weekends, if at all possible. The rationale is that if I send an Email to one of my team ‘out of hours’ I am effectively encouraging and enforcing this behaviour in them. I know this isn’t always possible, but I really do try to keep to this rule. The other reason this rule helps is to ensure that staff keep to their work life balance as far as possible. Working all hours might well work for some people (some people even thrive on it) but I’ve been managing staff long enough to know that this doesn’t work for everyone and it is very easy to get burned out due to work and never feel like you are stepping away from it.
    So what about your organisation? Have you cracked this issue?...

  3. Teachers urged to start work-to-rule over contract negotiations, montreal.ctvnews.ca
    QUÉBEC, Québec - Teachers protested outside of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s office Tuesday over what they call a lack of progress in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
    Public school teachers say they will engage in work-to-rule pressure tactics as the school year begins.
    Several teachers’ federations in Quebec are telling their members not to take on extra-curricular activities given to them by management.
    Public school teachers will work their 32-hour workweek and no more.

    The federations did say teachers can take on volunteer or extra-curricular activities if they choose but not assigned tasks.
    Most of these tasks would include administrative paperwork, after-work meetings, lesson preparation and other tasks outside of their working hours.
    Teachers must respect the labour laws, the current collective bargaining agreement and their students’ needs in any work-to-rule tactic, explained a spokesperson from the Ministry of Education.
    Teachers say over the past five months, the government and the federations have been meeting regularly, but claim the government isn't coming with any real offers – only demands.
    Those demands, they say, include increasing class size ratios and removing coding for special needs students. Teachers say this would mean less support staff for teachers with students that have special needs.
    Teachers also say the government offer to increase their salaries by 2 per cent over five years is too low.
    The government wants to extend the workweek for teachers by three hours and move the retirement age from 60 to 62.
    Teachers’ federations are also saying the government wants to change the way their pensions are calculated by reducing their defined benefits after retirement.
    Teachers that retire early could also be penalized with an increased actuarial reduction.
    The Ministry of Education said the government will continue to negotiate with the teachers’ federations but would not comment on how the negotiations are progressing.

8/23-24/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. The Workers’ Voice Fades Without Union Representation, by John J. Tassoni Jr., (8/23) Go Local Providence via golocalprov.com
    PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA — I was at a party recently when a person I had never met before barely said hello before telling me that he hated labor unions.
    He clearly did not understand the true purpose of unions.
    Historically, labor unions developed out of a desperate need to protect workers’ rights. Better wages, the 40-hour work week and reasonable work hours [ie: schedules], safe working conditions, the end of child labor are a result of unions.
    The Labor Day holiday is a result of unions. And the list goes on.
    Union strategy is very simple. By working men and women joining together, they can have a voice at work about what matters most in the workplace. Sick leave. Family-friendly policies. How the work gets done. A productive environment for better products and services. A strong middle class is the result of unions.
    The workforce and workplace are forever evolving, and unions are meeting the needs of workers in today’s flexible and non-tradition work environments.
    So why such scrutiny of labor unions?
    Because workers in labor unions get a voice in the economy that they helped create, and this irritates non-unions workers and employers.
    These days, many employers concentrate on growing their business and profits at what seems to be at the expense of employees. They are shirking the responsibility of providing comprehensive health insurance, pension plans or 401K plans, reasonable work hours and other safeguards.
    Employers are making jobs and salaries less secure through downsizing, using more outside contractors, and sending work offshore. Made in America has been replaced by Made in Everywhere Else But America.
    Now more than ever, workers need the collective voice and union bargaining power so that we don’t revert back to the working environment of the 19th century, where sweatshops, meager wages and 80-plus work weeks were the norm.
    Sadly, we are more than halfway there again.
    Immigrant workers are again working in sweatshop conditions thought to be long gone.
    As the economy worsens, unions become more important than ever.
    Though labor unions are not as prominent as they once were, they still play an important role in protecting America’s workforce. Unions and labor groups are working along with social activists to monitor and eliminate these all too familiar scenarios.
    Unions also help employees bargain for wages and provide a support system against workplace discrimination.
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a typical union worker made $970 a week in 2014, compared to $763 a week made by a non-union worker. That 27 percent spread has remained relatively constant since 2000.
    Unionized workers have a tendency towards higher job security than their non-unionized peers because the union makes the final decision about termination and disciplinary actions. Unionized workers also have the benefit of Union representation to advocate for them in the workplace. Today, approximately 93 percent of unionized workers have medical benefits compared to 69 percent of their non-union counterparts.
    There are many advantages for the employer of having a unionized staff. Unionized workers are viewed as a more stable investment for training and time as they are bound by union contracts. And yes, there are some disadvantages, too, the first being a strike. Unionized workers must strike if the majority votes in favor of doing so, which can result in loss of income for employees, and productivity for the employer. Then there are the dues and fees, which may offset wages.
    But union representatives work out these details as a part of the collective bargaining agreement with the employer.
    Unfortunately, declining unionization rates mean that workers are less likely to receive good wages and be rewarded for their increases in productivity. Labor unions need to remain strong to be a prominent force in the quality of life for America’s working families.
    Building power in unions means fairness for all working people and creates standards for a stronger middle class across America.

  2. Turkey’s parliament sets record for ‘shortest working hours’, 8/24 (8/22 late pickup) DailySabah.com
    ISTANBUL, Turkey - Turkey's parliament also known as the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) has broken a record for 'shortest working hours' between two elections, as the country is preparing to hold early elections on November 1, after the failure to form a coalition government.
    [Here's a new unit of worktime: worktime between elections.]
    While the results of June 7 elections had unprecedented implications for the parliament in terms of diversity and representation, it also meant that 369 deputies who were elected spent the least amount of time working by convening for only eight times, 22 hours and 23 minutes in total.
    Ismet Yilmaz, who previously served as the defense minister will also be the parliament speaker with shortest period served in office.
    The June 7 elections produced the most diverse Parliament in Turkey's history and enabled greater representation for minority communities, women and the disabled. The percentage of women in Parliament rose from four percent to 18 percent, which is the highest rate ever in Republican history.
    Turkey held general elections on June 7 to choose its legislators for the country's 25th Parliament, shaping the future of Turkish politics. The two significant outcomes of the elections were that the AK Party, which was vying for a fourth term of single-party power, had a clear victory but failed to secure the 276 seats required to form a majority government, and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)'s attempt to pass the 10 percent national election threshold to make its way into Parliament, by receiving 80 seats in the parliament.
    Since the bare minimum to retain a simple majority in Parliament was not achieved, the AK Party started looking for a coalition partner to form a government, which appeared to be a tough undertaking, taking into consideration the rigid differences between the policies of the parties in Parliament and talks to establish a coalition government have failed.

8/22/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Library will cut hours, book purchases, by Whitney Snipes, CourierNews.com
    POPE COUNTY, Ark., USA — A slash in state funding for libraries prompted many changes in the Pope County Library System (PCLS).
    Shawn Pierce, PCLS director, explained the cuts at an Aug. 19 meeting of the Pope County Library Board. Areas of PCLS affected by decreased funds include the book budget, part-time salaries, hours of operation, computer purchases and staff training.
    Pierce said the cuts were caused when the Arkansas Legislature cut the funding for 400 libraries in the state by $1 million to help replace the state's "rainy day fund." The way public libraries are listed in the Arkansas budget is listed under "Grants for Public Libraries," Pierce said. She said the name of the fund is misleading, so the legislators thought that it was a competitive grant rather than an important line item for library funding.
    "We were in communication with the Arkansas State Library and were watching the legislation as it went through the legislature," Pierce said. “It was unexpected and happened on the heels of a programming increase from 286 (programs) in 2012 to 877 in 2014. Our requests for book purchases are double that of what is appropriated for that line item.
    "We are now having to reduce book purchases and cut hours with the public requesting that we not cut but increase our previous budget amount."
    To make up the shortfall, spending on book purchases will be reduced by $10,000 in 2015. In 2016, the book budget will be decreased by $15,198.
    The reduction in the book line item will affect both book purchases and a cancellation of a children's TumbleBooks database subscription. The system's book collection "turned over" 2.5 times in 2014 with 297,000 circulations of the 119,000. At a value of $25 per checkout, PCLS saved the citizens of Pope County $7.42 million dollars in book purchases alone.
    Further savings will be achieved by cutting one working hour per week for each of the library's 16 part-time clerks. This will save the system $6,815, but will affect open hours on Thursdays and Fridays.
    "We did everything we could do to not be closed on Saturdays when the school children come to do homework," Pierce said.
    The Russellville Public Library will reduce operating hours Thursdays and Fridays to compensate for the reduction in part-time hours. New hours for Thursday will be noon until 6 p.m. and Friday from noon until 5:30 p.m. [Better hours cuts than job cuts, timesizing than downsizing!]
    Pierce said the reduction in operating hours comes at a time when patrons have requested the library extend the time it is open.
    PCLS uses e-Rate grant funds to purchase computers and partnered with Connect Arkansas to help teach computer skills. Not only has funding been cut to Connect Arkansas, which conducted a variety of digital literacy and workforce development workshops for more than 445 people across the state, but legislative support of $12,000 for the eRate Grant to help pay for library computers was also reduced.
    Connect Arkansas partnered with several organizations to provide comprehensive training centered on computer basics, online entrepreneurship, and telehealth communication services. The eRate grant is being reduced by 20% each year over the next five years, and will change its focus to supporting new cabling.
    Other budget changes will include a 2016 minimum wage increase to those library clerks making less than $8.00 per hour and a 2017 minimum wage increase to those library clerks making less than $8.50 per hour which will amount to roughly $3,822.

  2. Law: Time to limit off-the-clock work? by Wilford H. Stone, Lynch Dallas Attorneys at Law via TheGazette.com
    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, USA - Employers appreciate the employee who is willing to do some work after hours, responding to email, taking or making phone calls, or otherwise engaging in work-related communications from a laptop, smartphone or other electronic device.
    However, an employer unwittingly can accrue liability for overtime pay as a result of such activity because employers must pay their employees for checking and responding to work-related emails during what would normally be the employee’s personal time if that employee is classified as non-exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act
    [Employers aren't going to get more customers until they stop overworking existing employee-consumers and hire more employee-consumers. Taxpayer-funded unemployment insurance and welfare and disability and incarceration can't fund ALL or even most of the consumer spending in the economy!]
    The rule also applies to any form of communication, such as texting, instant messaging and phone calls. Obviously exempt employees who are paid on a salary basis do not pose any risk with regard to wage and hour exposure for their use of smartphones after work.
    In one pending 2014 class-action case involving sergeants in the city of Chicago’s police department, the employees filed a lawsuit under the FLSA claiming that the city owed overtime for work the sergeants performed on their BlackBerry devices outside their normal working hours. The sergeants claim that the Chicago Police Department had a “long-standing and unwritten” policy requiring them to be on call and responding to work emails, voice-mails and text messages 24 hours a day, seven days a week regardless of their location.
    Furthermore, the sergeants claim they were not compensated for the time spent receiving and responding to these communications. The city denies the claim and is relying on the defense that it should not be liable for overtime if it had no actual knowledge of the off-the-clock hours worked by the employees, and the employees failed to follow the established process to report overtime work.
    The lawsuit is pending but should be monitored and, at a minimum, trigger warning alarms for every employer.
    Assume, for example, that your diligent employee spends, on average, an extra 15 minutes per day after-hours answering the phone and responding to texts and emails. That time results in an extra five hours a month, or 60 hours a year, or two weeks of overtime per year.
    Those few extra minutes a day can cost a business substantial sums with additional, potential liability for double damages and attorney’s fees (both yours and theirs) if the employer has failed to pay the employees for the time and is compelled to do so as a result of litigation or a government audit arising out of a complaint by a disgruntled employee.
    Of course, if the time devoted to these tasks is truly negligible, such as a short yes-or-no email on a rare occasion after hours, any risk of liability is unlikely. However, lengthy discussions or long email strings may lead to a very different result.
    While this may seem unfair to employers, they can take steps to limit their liability. For example, employers have the right to control and regulate after hours-work. Employers should have a written policy in place that addresses and regulates after-hours work for non-exempt employees.
    Such a policy could be as simple as this: “No work beyond an employee’s scheduled work hours is permitted without management’s specific pre-authorization. This prohibition extends to every type of business connected activity, such as reviewing and responding to phone calls, voice mails, emails and texts outside of your regular work hours.”
    In addition, but no less important, the policy should require that non-exempt employees report the time they spend on after-hours work for each pay period on detailed time records, and employers should pay the employees accordingly.
    Remind employees of the need for authorization before performing overtime work, and also remind them of your policies against performing unauthorized work. If they disobey, follow through with discipline against employees who violate the policies. For example, you can confiscate employer-owned phones or suspend remote-access privileges.
    While such policies may not provide an employer with absolute immunity, they are a good start to limiting off-the-clock claims.
    Wilford H. Stone is with Lynch Dallas Attorneys at Law.

8/21/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Lawrence library to cut hours, by Jonece Dunigan, DecaturDaily.com
    The Lawrence County Library is feeling the pinch of the shrinking Lawrence County budget and is having to cut back on its hours. (photo caption)
    MOULTON, Ala., USA — The Lawrence County Public Library is preparing for the county’s next round of budget cuts by closing 1½ hours earlier on Fridays.
    The library will be open from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m starting next week. By reducing the work week from 41½ hours to 40, the change will cut $1,250 annually from the library’s payroll.

    [Better earlier closing than fewer jobs, timesizing than downsizing. (So it was open 9:30-5 on Fridays before = 7½ hrs. But if M-Th were 9:30-5 too, that only makes 4x7½= 30, +F 7½= 37½ hours total. How'd they get 41½? Googling them to see... Aha, M-Th were 9:30-6= 4x8½= 34, +F 7½= 41½, check.)]
    Financial losses tied to the 2014 International Paper closure created a $700,000 deficit in the county’s general fund for fiscal 2015, which ends Sept. 30. Commissioners reduced the deficit by asking department heads to cut their payroll 20 percent in May.

  2. Some firms shut out of "working hours bank" system, YLE News via yle.fi
    HELSINKI, Finland - One of the talking points of the now flopped social contract agreement is a so-called working hours bank. The concept, introduced in the early 2000s, has been slow to attract workers despite positive experiences. The system allows employees to convert works hours and benefits to leisure time or paid off as salary, but as many as 70,000 companies are not allowed to use it.
    Due to its potential for savings and flexibility, a working hours bank system allowing for the conversion of hours worked into leisure time or money has been raised as one of the issues faced by the unsuccessful deal between government and employer organisations.
    The system can be used to even out the amount of hours workers spend doing their jobs, meaning that when demand is high employees work more, and less when the need is lower. Employees may save up and use their time off more flexibly than they could otherwise.
    Working hours banks are especially suited to jobs where the demand for both working hours and products is variable, such as the travel industry.
    Slow moves, some shunned
    Working hours banks and related legislation have been developed trilaterally between the government and employee and employer organisations since the early 2000s, according to the association of Finnish Business School Graduates.
    The use of working hours banks or similar flexibility schemes is far more common in countries such as Germany than it is in Finland due to differences in job markets. Accommodations to working hours have been increased greatly in Germany.
    In contrast, the Finnish version of the legislation has not been fully enacted. Employers and employees can agree on savings and their policies in their collective bargaining agreements or job-specifically.
    The strict exception clauses in the Finnish job market system also apply to working hours banks. If a collective bargaining agreement allows for the use of a working hours bank, the option is legally off-limits for companies that are not members of an employers' federation. Firms like these number at about 70,000 in Finland.

8/20/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Fast to debut four-day workweeks at Uniqlo outlets, JapanTimes.co.jp
    KYODO, Japan - Fast Retailing Co. will introduce a new system in October to allow employees at its Uniqlo casual clothing stores to take three days off a week, as it aims to promote diverse work styles, company sources said Thursday.
    The four-day workweek initiative is designed for workers to spend time on child-rearing and nursing care, and for the clothing giant to keep qualified employees on its payroll.
    Facing severe labor shortages, other companies in the retail, restaurant and service industries could follow suit, industry observers said.
    The program will be applicable to about 10,000 “regional” employees, who are hired locally and not subject to transfers, at its Uniqlo outlets. These employees can choose to take three days off each week.
    Employees choosing to work four days a week will work 10 hours per day so they can earn the same level of wages they earn for working eight hours per day for five days a week, the sources said.
    They will also be asked to work on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, when stores are busy. They can switch back to the existing five-day workweek system every six months.
    With the latest initiative, Fast Retailing hopes to secure enough employees and reduce its high turnover rate, as it is seeking to increase the number of full-time locally hired employees from the current 10,000 to 16,000.
    [Then how about 4 EIGHT-hour days for some real work-life balance?! Medicine, travel, internet, automation - everything has changed since 1950 but the workweek! How stupid is that in the age of robotics?!]
    The firm will also consider introducing the new system for full-time workers at its headquarters as well as at its cheaper GU stores, the sources said.
    Once criticized for its harsh working conditions, Fast Retailing has been taking a series of steps toward bringing overtime hours to zero and promoting the employment status of part-timers to full time.
    Major firms introduced four-day workweeks in the summer of 2011 to address power shortages due to halted nuclear power plants following the earthquake and tsunami disaster, and reactor meltdowns, in the Tohoku region in March that year, but the system did not become permanent, according to Nikkei business daily.
    Only a handful of companies have introduced such a system on a permanent basis, including Alpen Co., a sports gear retailer headquartered in Nagoya.

  2. Coping With the New Definition of Exempt Employees: The Proposed New Salary Test May Not Benefit Currently Salaried Employees, by Ruzal & Panken & Stein, (8/19 late pickup) Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. via National Law Review via natlawreview.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (and state wage hour laws) certain hourly paid employees must be paid time and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a regular work week.
    But certain employees (for example many general managers and lead managers) are exempt from this requirement if they satisfy three qualifications imposed by federal regulations:
    1. The employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed;
    2. the amount of salary paid must be at least $455 per week; and
    3. the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (the “duties test”).
    On July 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a major change in the salary level test from $455 per week to $970 per week which if implemented would invalidate the exemption of any currently exempt employee earning less than $970 per week ($50,440 annually) and reclassify those employees as non-exempt employees.
    Such a reclassification could adversely impact the self-respect of many employees who believe that their salary is a mark of status superior to hourly paid rank and file employees and assures them of a regular paycheck in a regular amount each week.
    [EXCEPT that superior-status consultants on "billable time" are also paid hourly like rank&file employees.]
    In addition there is the specter of an employer having to pay hefty amounts for employees working many overtime hours or increasing head count to avoid overtime.
    But there may be a silver lining for employers. If the employer sets the regular rate for an employee reclassified from exempt to non-exempt at a rate which would yield an amount similar to the former salary when regular overtime is factored in, the employer may not be economically impacted and the employee will not get a government imposed raise for doing the same work s/he had always done.
    Alternatively, under certain circumstances, the employer is permitted to pay a salary to non-exempt employees, which would help avoid the potential stigma of losing a salary and instead being paid an hourly wage, as discussed above. This is known as the fluctuating work week method of paying overtime.
    Here is how it works:
    A non-exempt employee whose hours typically vary from week to week is paid a salary which is agreed to cover all hours worked in each regular workweek. Thus, salary status is preserved.
    To determine the amount of overtime owed, the regular rate is calculated by dividing the employee’s weekly salary by the number of hours worked each week. Since the salary covers all hours worked each workweek, the employer is only required to pay an additional half time amount for each hour worked over 40 in a workweek.
    Here is an example:
    Under the hourly rate of pay method of compensation, a non-exempt employee paid $20 per hour earns $800 for a forty hour week and must be paid $30 per hour for each hour worked over 40 in a workweek
    If s/he works an additional 10 hours the employer must pay an additional $300 for that workweek for a total of $1,100 per week.
    Under the fluctuating workweek calculation, the employee would be paid a salary. Assuming the employee’s weekly salary is $800, if the employee works 50 hours in one workweek, the employer would calculate overtime by dividing $800 by 50 hours yielding a regular rate of $16 per hour. Because the $800 salary is paid for all hours worked, the employer is only required to pay an additional half-time, which in this case is $8.00, for each of the ten hours worked in excess of 40. Thus, the employer’s overtime exposure for this workweek is only $80 for a total of $880 per week, as opposed to $1,100 under the hourly rate of pay method.
    Assuming the DOL’s proposed new regulations to increase the salary basis are implemented, employers can take measures to avoid the significant increase in their operating costs and help sustain profitability.
    Caveat: Check your state laws to see if the fluctuating work week method is allowed. The New York State Hospitality Regulations do not permit the fluctuating work week method for restaurant operations. Thus, New York restaurant operations employers should set an hourly rate so as to minimize the cost of regular overtime.

8/19/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Teaching assistants face cuts in hours again, by Barbara Hootman, barbara@blackmountainnews.com, BlackMountainNews.com
    ASHEVILLE, N.C., USA - The 2015-16 school year is starting, and once again teaching assistants are losing hours and money because the state budget has not been passed
    Buncombe County teaching assistants are losing an hour a day, or five hours a week, from their scheduled time.
    In 2013 their hours were cut in 2013 [our strikethru - where's the editor!] as well.

    “It’s sad that this is happening again,” said Deanna Buchanan, a teaching assistant for 11 years who now works at Black Mountain Primary School. “Everyone suffers, including the teachers and students, when the assistants are cut.”
    The Buncombe County Board of Education cut teaching assistants’ hours because the continuing resolution the state is operating under doesn’t include some money that paid for assistants last year.
    The assistants stand to lose some $2,600-$3,000 a year, though they would be able to keep their benefits.
    Teaching assistants are victims of circumstances because the county has cut until it has nothing left to cut, said Chip Craig, Owen District Schools’ representative on the Buncombe County Board of Education, said.
    “The (Buncombe County) Schools system is operating at a bare-bones level now,” he said last week. “At present, Buncombe County Schools are operating under the continuation budget (set to expire Aug. 14) even though our budget year began on July 1.
    “Buncombe County Schools received $600,000 less for instructional assistants than allotted in the previous year’s budget. The reduction of instructional assistants’ hours in Buncombe County Schools is the direct result of less state funding. Depending on the final budget, the line item allotted for instructional assistants may be adjusted further.
    “Eighty-eight percent of (Buncombe County Schools’) budget is personnel expenses, and 67 percent (of the system’s budget) is funded by the state. We have to take the assistant teachers’ pay from the 88 percent.”
    Craig traces the teaching assistants’ dilemma back to 2009-10, when budget issues initiated cuts to statewide education funding.
    “The state has continued to cut N.C. public school budgets annually,” he said. “The Buncombe County school board has tried very hard to maintain the number of teachers and instructional assistants in the classroom. Kindergarten through third grade are critical years for the intellectual development of children. Studies have shown that if a student is not reading at grade level by third grade, his/her chance of success and graduation from high school is low. Instructional assistants are critical to assure the success of all students during these early years.”
    Malorie McGinnis, Black Mountain Primary School’s principal, said the loss of instructional assistants’ hours will definitely impact classroom teaching. The school has 11 assistants in its kindergartern and first-grade classrooms. “Their duties are ever-changing to meet the many needs of students,” McGinnis said. They help care for the students and instruct them in small groups or one-on-one. Our instructional assistants go above and beyond to meet the needs of our young students.”
    The debate over funding teaching assistants’ positions is not new in the state House and Senate. The legislature has been divided for several years about the need for the assistants. In its budget proposal, the Senate suggests deep cuts so that more teachers can be hired and class sizes can be reduced. The House proposal keeps funding as it is.
    The Asheville Citizen-Times has reported that Cynthia Lopez, personnel director for Buncombe County Schools, said if deeper cuts happen in teacher assistants funding, schools might reduce the ratio of assistants in kindergarten through third grade and reduce the number of days the assistants work.
    The school system might cut hours even more. The last resort would be to lay off part-time assistants. Buchanan is already concerned. Her hours were reduced to four a day at W.D. Elementary School before she moved to Black Mountain Primary School.
    “We are starting school worried if we will have a job left after the state budget is decided,” she said. “They could cut our hours more, take our benefits or do away with assistants. We don’t really know what is going to happen to us."

  2. Tip shop opening hours cut back to two days, GladstoneObserver.com.au
    GLADSTONE, Qld., Australia - Trading hours at the Tip Top Shops at Gladstone and Benaraby Waste Transfer Stations will change from Saturday, August 29, dropping from five [6hr] days a week to two [8hr days = from 30 to 16 hrs/wk].
    [This is kindof a big and abrupt drop. Nonetheless, no job losses are being mentioned.]
    The Tip Top Shops, which are part of Gladstone Regional Council's recycling operations, are currently open Wednesday to Sundays between 10am and 4pm.
    Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers said following a business review, the operational hours would alter to Saturday and Sundays between 8am and 4pm.
    "This will allow council's waste services to economise and rationalise the current operational costs and arrangement for recycling," Cr [=Councillor?] Sellers said.
    "Based on the review, it was apparent that the shops are busiest on weekends, so the additional two hours [8-10am] should cater to potential customers."
    Cr Sellers said there would also be a change to the payment system at the Tip Top Shops.
    "The shop attendants will provide the customer with a sale docket to take to the gatehouse attendant to make the purchase," she said.
    Council will trial the change in trading hours for one month with a review intended.

  3. Trudeau promises to give Canadians a legal right to flexible work hours, by Chinta Puxley, Canadian Press via CP24 News Toronto via cp24.com
    WINNIPEG, Man., Canada -- Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau touted help for families balancing the demands of work and home life Wednesday, promising certain employees the right to request flexible hours as well as increased parental leave.
    [But do "flexible hours" include shorter hours? And isn't more parental leave a subsidy for more population in an age of overpopulation?]
    Trudeau told a Winnipeg rally that his party would ensure that employees covered by federal labour laws have the legal right to ask their bosses for flexibility in their start and finish times, as well as the ability to work from home.
    "The way Canadians work is changing," he said. "The way Canadians live is changing," he told about 200 supporters. "It's about recognizing that we can increase the productivity for Canadians and protect their quality of life in a way that will grow the economy."
    A Liberal government would amend the Canada Labour Code and would also work with provincial and territorial governments to put the same rights into their own labour legislation, Trudeau said.
    While employees would have the right to ask for more flexible work hours, there is nothing in the Liberal plan that would require employers to grant the request.
    "The employee is allowed to ask and the employer needs to formally respond in writing to that request," Trudeau said.
    A similar plan in the United Kingdom has shown that about 80 per cent of requests from employees for changes in work hours are eventually granted, he added.
    But NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called the proposal "wanting" and wouldn't say whether his party would support a similar initiative.
    "You're going to be allowed to ask for flexible hours but your employer can say no," Mulcair said during a stop in Surrey, B.C. "Well, that's already the case today so I'm not too sure what they announced, to be honest with you."
    The Conservatives criticized the proposal saying the "entire 'policy' involves employers writing a letter."
    "Justin's announcement lacks any teeth or enforceability, and does not apply to the vast majority of workers," the party said in an emailed statement.
    Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said it's not clear what the Liberal proposal would accomplish. Informal requests are made by employees across Canada already and are granted, he said.
    In fact, he said current labour law can stand in the way of such arrangements by binding the hands of employers to pay overtime. By enshrining the process in legislation, Kelly said it could create more red tape.
    "I don't think it would have huge negative impact on business other than perhaps creating a bit of a paper chase," Kelly said. "There is nothing in the proposal that appears to mandate that the employer must agree to what the employee wants."
    Later in Vancouver, Trudeau announced an 18-month parental leave policy following the birth of a child.
    He said parents could choose to take their leave in portions over that period, up from the current 12 months.
    "For example, a single parent could take six months leave, go back to work for another six and then return to parental leave and receive benefits for the remaining six months."
    Parents could also choose to extend their parental leave to 18 months when combined with maternity benefits at a lower benefit level, he said.
    "In a two-parent family, parental leave could be split between partners in whatever way works best for them," Trudeau said.
    "This added flexibility will increase the use of parental leave benefits, which means it would translate into an investment of $125 million more per year in the economic security of Canadian families. And it will not mean any increases to employment insurance benefits."
    - With files from Keven Drews in Vancouver.

8/18/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. SARC To Cut Hours, KONP AM1450 & FM101.7 via konp.com
    SEQUIM, Wash. State, USA - The Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC) will be significantly reducing their hours of operation in an effort to keep their doors open.
    [Better reducing hours than reducing staff, timesizing than downsizing!]
    SARC's Board of Directors and staff held a meeting Tuesday morning and discussed possible changes in services and other options to extend their diminishing reserve fund.
    Scott Deschenes is the Executive Director for SARC, and spoke with KONP about how the organization will function for the immediate future.
    Deschenes said that fees for SARC could go up slightly in the coming months, but that instruction packages would be included with any newly hiked membership fees. He said that with Sequim's plans to put a metropolitan park district before the voters, the planned cutbacks are just a short term solution.
    The City of Sequim has prepared a plan to engage SARC and other stakeholders in the development of a broad-based Metropolitan Park District. The City is also working on a plan for a short-term financial solution for SARC through 2017. That might include a combination of expenditure reductions and a request for a time limited tax levy, reservation of Rural County Opportunity funds for any capital emergency needs and assistance in seeking grants and low interest loans.

  2. Aurora Flight Sciences furloughs 25 in Bridgeport, by Jim Davis, The Exponent Telegram (press release) (registration) via theET.com
    [Requiring registration for a press release is like a bank charging for deposits as well as checks.]
    BRIDGEPORT, W.Va., USA — About 25 employees at a Bridgeport aerospace parts maker have been furloughed for two months, a company spokesman has acknowledged.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings!]
    The 60-day furloughs at Aurora Flight Sciences were effective Monday, said Chip Sheller, the company’s vice president of communications.
    “We very recently learned of a major slowdown on a helicopter program that we support,” Sheller said. “Our customer informed us of a nearly one-year delay in orders that were already expected from us for this helicopter platform.
    “It’s very, very unexpected,
    and it’s a significant loss in work for approximately one year for the Bridgeport facility,” he added. “What we’ve done at this point is 60-day furloughs for some workers in the facility.”
    The Manassas, Virginia-based company employs 136 at its Bridgeport facility, Sheller said.
    Both production employees and middle management are included in the furloughs, Sheller said.
    The furloughs are not expected to exceed 60 days, Sheller said.
    “Our hope is these workers are back at work as soon as possible, whether that’s through the restoration of schedule through this helicopter program or other new orders,” he said.
    Rick Rock, director of the North Central West Virginia Airport, said he hopes the furloughs are short-lived.
    Aurora Flight Sciences is a major player in the aerospace industry evolving around the Bridgeport airport, Rock said.
    “They’re a tremendous employer for the community and are doing cutting-edge research and development on unmanned aircraft,” Rock said.
    “Their value to our country is immense, and we hope to see them get back to work as soon as possible,” Rock added.
    Aurora Flight Sciences also has a manufacturing facility in Columbus, Mississippi, and a research and development center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    Staff writer Jim Davis can be reached at (304) 626-1446 or jdavis@theet.com

  3. New working hours contract will not be imposed on junior doctors in Scotland, by Helen Puttick, Glasgow Evening Times via eveningtimes.com.uk
    EDINBURGH, Scotland - Junior doctors in Scotland have been told the Scottish Government will not impose a new contract on them which extends their standard working hours.
    Health Secretary Shona Robison has issued the reassurance after negotiations broke down with NHS Employers in England over the way trainee doctors will work in future.
    Westminster Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given the BMA until September to negotiate changes to working contracts for hospital consultants and junior doctors to ensure "proper" seven-day services, warning that he is ready to impose a new contract if they cannot agree.
    However, David Reid, chair of the Scottish Junior Doctors Committee, has issued an email to trainees in Scotland, saying: "The Scottish Government have given us the assurances we were looking for ... they will not be seeking to impose any new arrangements on trainees in Scotland."
    Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “In Scotland we are determined to maintain the positive relationships with staff in our NHS that are already in place and work in partnership with them to improve services and meet the challenges of the future.
    “This is absolutely the case as regards the current junior doctor contract negotiations. I know the BMA have concerns about the current recommendations made for change on a UK level. Promoted stories
    “That is why we will not be seeking to impose any new arrangements in Scotland, and would look to secure any agreement through principled negotiations. We would continue to service the current New Deal Contract for Junior Doctors, and would move towards negotiations when the time is right in Scotland." Share article
    The BMA is saying junior doctors will return to the negotiating table with NHS Employers in England if a number of proposals are addressed. These include a plan to extend the hours worked at standard rates of pay from 60 to 90 hours per week. Concern has been expressed that such changes remove safeguards which discourage health authorities from scheduling doctors to work excessive hours.
    Targets have been set in Scotland regarding the number of shifts junior doctors are asked to work back to back. This move followed a campaign by the father of a junior doctor who died in a car accident driving home from a night shift.

8/16-17/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Lindsay staff furloughed, by Kelli Ballard kballard@portervillerecorder.com, 8/17 Porterville Recorder via recorderonline.com
    LINDSAY, Calif., USA - Lindsay city employees got a surprise last week when they learned they will have to begin taking eight hours off per pay period as furlough days — two days per month — starting Today.
    City officials said the furloughs are necessary to assure that employees and vendors are paid, and city services continue. The furloughs will save the city about $12,000 each two-week pay period.

    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings!]
    “This was a complete surprise,” said Neyba Amezcua, associate engineer for the City of Lindsay.
    The decision stems from a cash crunch the city is experiencing, due in part to the recent departure of former city manager Rich Wilkinson and his $35,000 severance settlement.
    Interim City Manager Bill Zigler said other factors in the decision are recent lawsuits brought by residents claiming parts of the city aren’t handicapped compliant, and negotiations between the city and former police officer Brian Clower. Clower is suing for unlawful termination.
    “It is my understanding that it’s really tied into this Clower lawsuit and what it’s been costing us and what it’s going to cost us and the current financial deficit has pushed us over the top,” said Councilwoman Pam Kimball.
    “We had to take action to avoid something more drastic in the future,” Zigler said.
    “It was kind of frustrating that our fiance director gave them [city council] options,” Amezcua said, referring to proposed rate increases for refuse and sewer. The rate increases would have restored rates to 2011 levels.
    Finance Director Tamara Laken said the Prop 218 measure that will increase the sewer and refuse rates to eliminate the deficits in those funds will not provide actual cash relief until December. The furlough action, she said, will reduce the city’s biweekly cash demands by approximately $12,000, which will provide enough savings to pay employees and vendors, and maintain public services.
    Amezcua said the furlough days will cost her $400 per month. A single mother of two teenagers, she said her daughter was asked to join a Visalia soccer travel team. “And I’m not going to be able to do that.”
    Amezcua said the situation was frustrating. “We met with our mayor and vice mayor two weeks ago and we were told they would do everything to get us raises, and two weeks later this happens.” She was referring to a “meet and greet” Mayor Pro Tem Rosaena Sanchez and Mayor Ramona Villarreal-Padilla called with city employees, in which, according to Villarreal-Padilla, they discussed the possibility of giving city employees cost of living adjustments.
    The city’s general fund has a $491,000 deficit, but Zigler and Laken said the deficit is not the cause of the furloughs. They said the problem lies in depletion of cash reserves which could lead to a fiscal crisis or emergency.
    The furlough is not expected to last beyond fiscal year 2015-16, which ends June 30, and staff will reevaluate the situation each quarter. Zigler said if they can end the furlough sooner, they will.
    “We hope in the future we can come up with some ways to increase revenue,” Zigler said.

  2. Keeping adjuncts' job agreements on track, by Beryl Lieff Benderly, 8/17 ScienceCareers.org or sciencecareers.sciencemag.org
    “Three of the adjuncts would have taught only half as many courses, and the rest would have lost their jobs entirely.” – Beryl Lieff Benderly [blowout quote]
    CHARLESTON, Illin., USA - Much reporting on the plight of adjunct faculty members emphasizes what sets them apart from academics on the tenure track: low pay, lack of job security, and lack of fringe benefits. At Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, however, tenure-track faculty members have taken a bold and generous step to express solidarity with their off-track colleagues. As reported on 6 August by Inside Higher Ed, tenure-track faculty members at the university voted to postpone a 1.5% increase in their own salaries to preserve the jobs of 29 adjunct faculty members, whose positions the university administration had decided to sacrifice in a budget cut.
    University Professionals of Illinois, the union that covers EIU faculty members, had already negotiated the pay raise for the faculty when, in mid-July, the university abruptly cancelled the appointments of the 29 adjunct faculty members, who had already signed letters of intent for the coming academic year, reports Inside Higher Ed. Three of the adjuncts would have taught only half as many courses, and the rest would have lost their jobs entirely. EIU adjuncts generally teach full loads and receive similar pay per course as tenure-track faculty members, but they have no job security.
    The unionized “faculty members were more than willing to give up the pay raise if it meant saving the annual contract positions,” the Inside Higher Ed article continues, adding that roughly 80 percent voted in favor of the raise delay. “When I approached the president with this, he looked at me and said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? You’re going to get strung out,’” says Jonathan Blitz, president of the EIU union chapter, as quoted in the article. “I told him it wouldn’t likely be a problem.”
    Because the university rescinded the offers so late, the affected adjuncts could “not spend the summer job hunting, which puts them in an even more difficult position than those instructors who did not receive offers last spring during the last round of cuts,” says Fern Kory, vice president of the EIU union chapter, as quoted in the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.
    The unionized tenured and tenure-track faculty members, by the way, are not the only EIU employees whose salaries are affected by the budget crunch. In a letter to the campus community that was published on 15 July in the Herald-Review newspaper, EIU President David Glassman announced a campus-wide “graduated furlough” for administrative employees and other staff the coming year, with the highest-paid staff members having to take off 14 days with no pay and moderately-paid employees having to take off fewer days; the lowest paid remain unaffected. His own salary “will be cut (rather than furlough) at the equivalent amount of 16 unpaid days,” Glassman wrote.
    [A graduated furlough? = getting sophisticated!]
    “This will allow me to continue to conduct university business without interruption or absence from campus.” Glassman also offered others the option of having their salaries reduced rather than taking off furlough days. In addition, Glassman is to “give back an equal percentage of the housing allowance I was provided to support a scholarship for EIU students,” he wrote in his letter.
    Glassman was appointed EIU’s president in March. “Blitz … noted that this was the new president’s first experience working with a unionized faculty and [the president] was ‘very pleased’ that they were able to negotiate an agreement,” according to the Inside Higher Ed article. The union was reportedly intending to file a grievance against the university because of the rescinded offers.
    In announcing the union’s decision in a memo to the campus community, Glassman wrote that “[t]he action by EIU’s outstanding faculty and academic support professionals is a testament to their support of their colleagues and willingness to be part of the solution in the vital budget adjustments taking place on campus.”
    Beryl Lieff Benderly writes from Washington, D.C.

8/15/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. OKC real estate company offers unlimited vacation, four-day work week, by Morgan Chesky, (8/13 late pickup) KOCO Oklahoma City via koco.com
    An Oklahoma City real estate tech company, A La Mode, is getting attention for offering unlimited vacation, four-day workweeks and the chance to work from home.
    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., USA - Here's reporter Morgan Chesky with the promise and how they plan to pull it off.
    Reporter [Morgan Chesky]: The saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but hidden on the northeast side sits A La Mode, a real estate tech company with a big promise, to prove that wrong.
    [Employee Tracy Bor:] "The big benefits are a 4-day workweek, also unlimited vacation."
    Reporter: That's right. 32 hours a week, and as much paid "vaycay" as you need, and no dress code. All reason Tracy Bor says, he's here to stay.
    [Employee:] "They're saying we're going to get you this 4-day workweek and in exchange you have to be focused during those 4 days."
    Reporter: Here at A La Mode, the vacation isn't the only thing that's unlimited. At the company cafe that even applies to the banana pudding.
    The company's focus is still turning a profit and said good talent is key.
    [Manager:] "If you have the best and the brightest, that means theoretically, you know, your profit should see a result of that."
    Reporter [Morgan Chesky]: Perks like unlimited vacation should help and managers trust employees not to abuse the privilege.
    'Likes do not pay the bills. Sales do." (Sign in background)
    Morgan Chesky, OKCO 5 News

  2. After four years, Redding close to ending furloughs, by Jenny Espino, (8/14 late pickup) Redding Record Searchlight via redding.com
    REDDING, Calif., USA -- Furlough Fridays are coming to an end for most city of Redding employees. But don't count on City Hall to be open next Friday.
    The Redding City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a new two-year contract with an employee group of 70, one of two bargaining units whose expired contracts must be resolved before services are restored five days a week at 777 Cypress Ave.
    "We're at the point it makes sense to sunset the program," City Manager Kurt Starman said.
    Of the city's 1,098 workers, about 670 are furloughed two Fridays a month.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings!]
    The exemptions are to 385 full-time and 40 part-time public safety and electrical and maintenance employees.
    Starman had anticipated lifting all furloughs this month after reaching tentative agreements with the two bargaining units represented by Redding Independent Employees' Organization.
    But the larger of the two groups, which represents 200 clerical, technical and professional employees at City Hall, rejected the contract. Union leaders notified top officials of the decision on Aug. 3, though they did not disclose results from the vote.
    Furloughs are ready to be lifted for the remaining department heads and other unrepresented workers as well as technical employees represented by United Public Employees of California Local 792. Nonetheless, Starman said it is not practical to open City Hall with a skeleton crew.
    On the one hand, he said he looked forward to the city providing a better level of service, especially in the area of building inspections where one day can make a difference on a project. Still, it is worth noting the furloughs have worked out better than he thought, with few complaints from the public.
    The city's budget was built on the assumption that furloughs were ending this fiscal year. In 2014-15, the furloughs saved the city just over $1 million.
    Negotiators for the city and RIEO are back at the bargaining table.
    "We want to answer (employees') questions and resolve the issues that remain. ... My hope and expectation is that it happens quickly," Starman said of a new contract.
    Separately, the contract the council will consider on Tuesday lifts furloughs right away and provides a pay raise of 2.5 percent for the 70 supervisory and confidential employees while moving them to less-generous benefits.
    Employees would begin to contribute 7 percent toward the California Public Employees' Retirement System beginning Sunday. The wage increase would kick in on Dec. 20.
    There is a net increase of $52,000 for the city over the course of the contract, which would expire in less than a year.
    The contract, though not retroactive in terms of pay and benefits, starts on June 30, 2014, and ends on June 30, 2016.
    Sheri DeMaagd, personnel director, in a staff report calculated the increase for lifting the furloughs at about $22,200 and $154,500 for raising salaries.
    The city will fund for retirees with five or more years of services 2 percent of the health insurance for each year of service up to a maximum of 50 percent. The contract implements the two-tier health plan and prescription co-pay increases. In all, the city's savings are about $92,000.
    Local governments across California started furloughs to survive the Great Recession. Those in the Bay Area and Southern California that have bounced back have ended them. Last month, Salinas ended its furloughs after six years. It was helped in part by a full-cent tax that voters approved in 2014 and is expected to generate $20 million.
    In Redding, it started in June 2009 with one-day a month furloughs for department heads. In October 2009, the furloughs were extended to two days a month for directors and one day a month for division managers.
    Across-the-board furloughs went into effect in July 2011.
    DeMaagd said there likely would be no major changes after furloughs are lifted for the supervisors.
    Most of the supervisory staff comes in to the office for a portion of the day or works from home, she said.
    "Probably, this is going to be a day that they are going to be in the office," DeMaagd said.
    In other business, the council will consider an offer from Lassen Canyon Nursery to buy for $840,000 a 16.75-acre lot at Stillwater Business Park. The amount is the full asking price.
    If accepted, the wholesale berry plant nursery could become the industrial park's first tenant.
    The park, since its opening in April 2010, has sat vacant.
    The company would pay a $25,000 deposit and pay the remainder of the purchase price at the close of escrow on or before Nov. 30. If the company does not build within five years, the city would be able to take the property back.
    Starman, who grew up in Shasta County, took pride that the city is partnering with a local company that is making its mark in the agricultural industry. Lassen Canyon Nursery is among the top largest sellers -- if not the largest -- of strawberries in the world. He called it an "excellent addition" to Stillwater.
    Stillwater continues to be marketed to prospective businesses, and he expected more activity and interest as the economy improves.
    If you go
    What: Redding City Council meeting
    When: 6 p.m., Tuesday
    Where: Redding City Hall, 777 Cypress Ave.
    About the meeting:
    The council will hold a public hearing to consider increases to the schedule of fees and service charges.
    The council will act on an offer to sell for $840,000 16.75 acres at Stillwater Business Park to Lassen Canyon Nursery.
    It will vote on an annual $645,600 contract with Haven Humane Society that expires Sept. 30, 2020.
    The council will go into closed session to be briefed on four items. The first two are labor negotiations with Redding Independent Employees' Organization unit representing clerical, technical and professional workers and for unrepresented employees. The council also will be briefed on property negotiations between the city and Dignity Health over a parcel at 40 Parkview Ave. and a claim by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. regarding the construction of Cypress Avenue Bridge.

8/14/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Shared-Work Plans May Ease Cutbacks for Employers, by Howard Perlman, Bloomberg BNA [Bloomberg News Agency?] via bna.com
    BETHESDA, Mryld., USA - Determining which employees to retain and which to lay off during operational downsizing, especially when cutback needs are so severe that top talent could be lost, can cause a lot of pressure for employers.
    Most states help employers reduce the negative consequences of downsizing by allowing employers to implement shared-work plans that increase the potential to retain during downsizing while still reducing compensable work hours.
    Instead of achieving reductions to labor costs through laying off employees, employers that implement a shared-work plan select a percentage at which to reduce the work hours and wages of employees covered by the plan instead of laying off those employees. Implementing a shared-work plan therefore can enable employers to avoid losing employees while still benefiting from labor cost reductions.
    The minimum and maximum percentages that states allow employers to reduce employees’ work hours and wages through a shared-work plan vary among states, although the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Pub. L.112-96) established that the minimum percentage reduction that a state can allow is 10 percent and the maximum percentage reduction that a state can allow is 60 percent.
    Employees whose work hours and wages were reduced under a shared-work plan are eligible for shared-work benefits, which are a type of wage-replacement benefits under the unemployment laws of states that permit implementation of shared-work plans. Shared-work benefits paid to employees by a state would equal the weekly unemployment benefit they would have received if fully unemployed multiplied by the percentage that their work hours and wages were reduced under a shared-work plan.
    As shared-work plans help employers retain employees, the plans also can help reduce costs of hiring and training new employees during periods of greater prosperity for employers, when employers can benefit from the work of experienced employees whose jobs were saved through a shared-work plan.
    However, unemployment tax costs for employers can increase because shared-work benefits paid to employees generally are charged to employers’ state unemployment accounts. Increases to the amount of unemployment benefits charged to an employer’s unemployment account with a state generally increase the likelihood of the employer being assessed a higher unemployment tax rate by the state for the next year.
    The total work hours reduced through a shared-work plan cannot be greater than the total work hours that would have been lost through layoffs, so the amount of shared-work benefits charged to an employer’s account generally would not exceed the amount of standard unemployment benefits that would have been charged because of layoffs. Therefore, the chance of an unemployment tax rate increase because of implementation of a shared-work plan generally is not greater than the chance of an increase occurring because of layoffs. Exceptions to this general rule can arise because of varying compensation levels among an employer’s employees, causing it to be prudent for employers interested in implementing shared-work plans to compare estimated unemployment tax rate effects of implementing a shared-work plan with those of laying off employees that would have been covered by the plan.
    If an employer seeking to implement a shared-work plan estimates that its unemployment tax rate would increase because of layoffs or implementation of a shared-work plan, it also would be prudent for the employer to analyze the unique aspects of its workforce to determine whether estimated savings acquired through reducing hiring and training costs would be greater than the estimated increase to unemployment tax costs.
    Employers also could estimate whether profits would be greater through layoffs or through retaining experienced employees under a shared-work plan and therefore preventing a loss to productivity. This comparison could be factored into employers’ cost analyses of implementing a shared-work plan.
    Shared-work plans must be approved by states’ unemployment insurance agencies before they can be implemented. The maximum duration that a shared-work plan can be in effect varies among states and typically is from 26 to 52 weeks, although employers can renew shared-work plans.
    Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia allow employers to implement the plans. The states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Although about half the states allow the plans to be implemented, 71.4 percent of the U.S. population is in these states and the District of Columbia.
    Nebraska is to join the group of jurisdictions authorizing employers to implement shared-work plans on Oct. 1, 2016, under the provisions of a law (L.B. 961) signed in April 2014. Illinois enacted legislation (S.B. 3530) in December 2014 to authorize employers to implement shared-work plans, but the state is working on developing sufficient processes to accommodate the plans.
    Take a free trial to Bloomberg BNA’s Payroll Library, the one-stop resource for reliable, up-to-date guidance and analysis in every area of payroll administration and compliance. In addition, Bloomberg BNA and Ernst & Young, LLP’s joint survey on multistate taxation remains available until Aug. 21.
    Howard Perlman is a Certified Payroll Professional who reports on all aspects of U.S. payroll administration for Payroll Library.

  2. How 3 New Studies Missed ObamaCare Work Hour Cuts, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily via news.investors.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Have employers cut work hours to avoid ObamaCare penalties? There's no clearer test than the one put forth by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
    The Affordable Care Act employer mandate applies to workers who clock at least 30 hours per week. So if companies were seeking to minimize liability, we'd likely see a drop in the number of workers with hours just above that threshold relative to the number with hours just below it.
    The White House test, as amended in early 2014: "Compute the ratio of persons working 31-34 hours per week to persons working 25-29 hours per week."
    30-Hour Dividing Line
    The results, seen in the accompanying chart, are striking.
    After leveling off for a couple of years as the economy recovered from recession, the ratio began a sharp and sudden dive in 2013. In June of this year, there were 191,000 fewer workers with usual work schedules of 31 to 34 hours in their main jobs than at the end of 2012, a drop of 8%. Meanwhile, an additional 406,000 people usually worked 25 to 29 hours, up 12%. These figures average 12 months of data because the U.S. Census' Current Population Survey (CPS) data are volatile from month to month.
    The divergent shifts on either side of the 30-hour divide coincide almost perfectly with the initial measurement period for ObamaCare employer penalties that began in 2013. Potential liability is determined a year before the penalties are actually imposed, so employers began responding in a pretty big way in early 2013.
    While the data show that the shift away from a 31- to 34-hour workweek became obvious in the final quarter of 2013, the data are consistent with employers adjusting work hours months earlier. That's not only because it takes some time for employers to implement such changes but also because census interviewers ask people to give their most frequent schedule over the past four or five months.
    The timing also matches the surge in anecdotal reports of employers cutting work hours, which IBD collected in a database that grew to 450 employers.
    The timing also matches up well with the relapse in the average workweek in low-wage industries. That's evident in the other chart based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the monthly establishment survey.
    As noted above, the White House economists tweaked their test of ObamaCare's impact. Initially, they had counted the 5 million or so people reported by the census to be working exactly 30 hours a week as full-time under ObamaCare. Once IBD brought it to their attention that the census rounds up, counting 30 minutes or more as a full hour, the White House acknowledged that including those workers "may be misleading."
    New Studies Claim No ObamaCare Jobs Impact
    That rounding problem is all the reason needed to dismiss one of three new studies casting doubt on ObamaCare's impact on work hours. The authors of an Urban Institute study treat all 5 million 30-hour workers as full time, rendering their analysis unreliable.
    Indeed, there were numerous reports of employers cutting workers to 29.5 or even 29.75 hours. Economists have noted that workers with their hours closest to 30 are most likely to have their schedules trimmed. Not only is it less disruptive to worker morale to lose a half hour of work, as opposed to 3 or 4 hours, but the penalty is greatest per hour of work for those working exactly 30 hours.
    For companies that provide coverage to most workers over 30 hours, that penalty equals $3,120 per uncovered full-timer in 2015. Remember that the penalty is paid after taxes. Converted to the equivalent in tax-deductible wages, the fine is equal to about $5,120 in wages for a company facing the average combined federal and state tax rate of 39.1%.
    Now it's fair to say that as employment has picked up and the jobless rate has come down, companies have likely become somewhat less concerned about ObamaCare penalties and more concerned about finding and hanging onto good workers. But as the penalty grows from year to year (along with the growth of the average national health insurance premium), so too may its bite, particularly as the economic cycle begins to turn.
    The Secret Of Timing
    Timing, in other words, matters a lot, and timing may be the biggest problem with the other two studies. One study from Aparna Mathur and Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute and Sita Slavov of George Mason University compares work hours before ObamaCare's passage (from January 2008 to February 2010) to work hours after (from March 2010 to July 2014).
    Thus, the "after" includes nearly three full years before the earliest measurement period for ObamaCare penalties was set to begin, during which time the Supreme Court was set to decide whether the individual mandate was kosher and President Obama had to face re-election.
    Asked whether it would have made more sense to focus on the period starting in 2013, Strain responded: "I don't agree that it would have made more sense, but I do agree that this would be an interesting question to study."
    Strain and his colleagues did find a shift from above 30 hours to below, but the shift wasn't more pronounced in lower-wage service industries likely to feel the brunt of the mandate, so the authors concluded that the mandate didn't have an effect.
    One shortcoming of the methodology is that it looked at employment by industry, not occupation. Yet school districts, local governments and colleges account for the bulk of IBD's database of hour-cutters. The fact that bus drivers, cafeteria workers and paraprofessionals lost hours in a high-paying industry actually helps generate the study's conclusion that ObamaCare hasn't had an impact.
    Other data also appear to contradict their finding that service-sector workers aren't bearing the brunt of short shifts and lack of full-time jobs.
    [Well, it IS the age of robotics which is always sold to us as "making life easier for everybody," but you know, it doesn't seem to DO that when the standard CEO response is downsizing rather than, say, timesizing. In addition, all this downsizing seems to be stymying consumer spending and impacting markets and marketable productivity and sustainable investment. Gee, yathink it might be a system requirement to sacrifice our frozen concept of full time in order to save employment and spending, instead of going on and on sacrificing employment and spending to save our frozen concept of full time?]
    Researchers from the Atlanta Federal Reserve noted earlier this year that the share of workers stuck in part-time jobs was nearly back to normal in production industries but the recovery had barely dented the share of people working part time for economic reasons in general service industries.
    Timing is also a main flaw of a third study from human resources service provider ADP, which compared work hours in the third quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014. The study missed out on the substantial shift that was already well advanced when the Obama administration, at the start of July 2013, pushed back the mandate penalty until 2015. The White House subsequently delayed the penalty for companies with fewer than 100 full-time equivalent workers until 2016.
    Lastly, it's not clear how well the ADP study adjusts for seasonal factors, since retail and hospitality-sector workers tend to work longer hours in the fourth quarter. It's hard to conclude much from studying a quarter's worth of data, especially the fourth quarter.

8/13/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Chinese govt wants shorter work week, Straits Times via business.AsiaOne.com
    BEIJING, China - The Chinese government has called on employers to let their staff work 4½ days a week in a bid to bolster tourism amid the flagging economy.
    In summer, employers could arrange for flexible working schedules, such as letting weekends begin at Friday noon, according to a document published on Tuesday by the General Office of the State Council.
    News of the shorter work week created a buzz in cyberspace. It became a hot topic on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social networking site in China, and has been read by more than 25 million people.

    "Please carry it out as soon as possible, otherwise the summer will end soon," one netizen pleaded.
    But some other netizens pointed out potential problems, including fee hikes at scenic locations.
    They hope the time off will give people a chance to shop and spend on travel and leisure activities.
    The authorities have also promoted paid leave in recent years as part of the country's plan for economic restructuring, promoting consumption and developing the service industry.
    [The Chinese are on the right track, but as yet they have no idea how far this has to go to maximize domestic consumption and its train of prosperity in terms of maxxing marketable productivity and monetary circulation and sustainable investment. To get these benefits, there has to be enough of an employer-perceived labor shortage (everyone else will perceive a balance!) as to maintain and raise wages flexibly by market forces (and resulting consumer spending). Creating a labor "shortage" in the world's most populous economy ain't gonna be easy - but at least they're not going to have the problem many advanced economies have = illegal migrants (except internal). Remember, we always did this stupidly, by plague and war. Now we have to do it intelligentiy, by emergency worksharing and permanent timesizing.]
    However, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, around 50 per cent of employees choose not to take paid leave because they fear it might give their bosses the impression that they are lazy and affect their chances of getting a promotion.
    Prof Lin Jiang, head of the Public Finance and Taxation Department at Lingnan College in Sun Yat-sen University, doubts the shorter work week will take off.
    "As far as I know, developed countries like the United States and the Hong Kong region do not practise a 4½-day work week," he told Chinese paper Information Times.
    "China, as a traditional industrial and manufacturing powerhouse, is unlikely to institutionalise this concept in the near future.

  2. Daimler Threatens To Close French Assembly Plant If Workers Cling To 35 Hour Work Week, Bloomberg via Smart Car Forum via smartcarofamerica.com
    PARIS, France -- Daimler is the latest company trying to skirt French restrictions on the length of the workweek, which was introduced 15 years ago by the Socialist Party.
    Daimler says it wants workers in Hambach, France, where it makes the Smart ForTwo, to put in more hours and has hinted that it may shift production if it cannot reach an agreement with employees.
    French President Francois Hollande, who was general secretary of the Socialist Party when the 35-hour workweek bill was created in 2000, is now seeking to make France's labor market more flexible to combat high unemployment, now at 18-year high.
    His "employment-securization" bill, adopted in June 2013, is being used by companies such as Daimler in try to increase hours worked each week beyond 35. The bill allows companies to temporarily change the number of working hours in exchange for a guarantee to keep jobs.
    "It's the beginning of the end of the 35-hour week," said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Euler Hermes in Paris. "Intelligent managers talk to the unions, they look at the numbers, they look at the competition, and they make it work for them. You will see innovative ways of going around this problem of the 35 hours."
    39 hours
    The automaker is offering to pay an additional 6 euros for each of the additional hours, which is lower than the legal minimum gross hourly wage of 9.61 euros, said CFDT union representative Patrick Hoszkowicz. He added that the company is also offering a one-time bonus of 1,000 euros to all employees if a deal is struck. Daimler declined to provide details of the negotiations, which will resume in September.
    In making this offer Daimler joins a string of companies that have sought to circumvent the 35-hour workweek law. In 2004, employees at a Bosch factory near Lyon that makes solar panels and diesel systems agreed to work more days a year for no extra pay to prevent the plant from moving to the Czech Republic.
    In 2010, workers at a General Motors factory making transmissions agreed to fewer holidays to keep their plant open. PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA, the two French carmakers, both signed labor agreements with union representatives in 2013 to increase work flexibility and freeze wages. In Renault's case, the accord allowed it to increase the workweek to 35 hours from 32.
    But Daimler still faces an uphill battle against union opposition. Company spokesman Sebastian Wahle said the talks in France are part of efforts to improve "competitiveness to ensure viability" of all production sites. "It's a way to freeze wages without any guarantees in return," labor leader Hoszkowicz said.
    Despite the 35 hour a week law, the French do not necessarily work fewer hours than their neighbors. French full-time employees worked an average of 40.5 hours a week in 2014, just one hour less than the European average, according to Eurostat.
    "No one has an easy solution for the extremely complicated labor code in France," Subran said. "At a local level, companies are trying to make things happen, and they are doing it by putting stakeholders around the table."
    Slow to move
    France has lagged behind other European countries in loosening its labor laws.
    [Yes, France has been slow in joining the race to the bottom, and since misery loves company, the racers are going to keep bashing France regardless of its high productivity. Shouldn't the race be about productivity? Well France is WINNING it, so bait and switch: the envious others are trying to shift the ground and bash France about anything and everything ELSE, especially stupid, short-sighted and self-destructive employers like Daimler who think they're going to get a few more luxury-car customers if they concentrate money supplies even more by concentrating employment on fewer workaholics and proliferating anxious wage-depressing jobseekers.]
    Gerhard Schroeder, Germany's last Social Democrat leader, pushed through his "Agenda 2010" package five years ago, cutting long-term benefits and enabling firms to opt out of national labor accords. In 2012 Spain allowed firms to negotiate their own pacts and reduced severance pay.
    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Jobs Act this year overhauled the labor market to make hiring and firing easier, and simplified the country's jungle of work contracts.
    Every government in France since 2000 has weakened the 35 hour law without actually revoking it. While the idea of the law was to create jobs by sharing work, economists are divided on how well it has succeeded.
    Opponents say it has made France uncompetitive. Hollande's government extended the number of years over which the hours can be increased from two to five in a law recently pushed through by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron. The government also promoted negotiations at the company level in a major break from previous Socialist governments' "one-size-fits-all" approach.
    "The government trusts that social dialog as close to the ground as possible will allow favorable solutions for both employees and companies," a spokeswoman for the Labor Ministry said. No government had dared return to a 39-hour workweek in the face of opposition from national unions. In 2007 Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, abolished payroll tax on overtime, cutting companies' cost for employees who work more than 35 hours a week. Hollande brought back the payroll tax while making it easier to fire workers and negotiate labor accords.

8/12/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Employment & Benefits - Brazil: Employment Protection Plan introduced, by Vilma Toshie Kutomi & Nathiê Tielle Mattos Luz, InternationalLawOffice.com
    [So Brazil is getting federal-level worksharing!]
    BRASÍLIA, Brazil - Introduction
    On July 6 2015 the government enacted Provisional Measure 680, which launched the Employment Protection Plan (EPP).
    The EPP is a crisis response measure under which companies can reduce their employees' working hours by up to 30% and proportionally reduce affected employees' salaries for up to 12 months.
    The EPP was launched due to Brazil's declining rates of economic activity.
    It seeks to protect formal jobs and encourage negotiations between employers and employees.
    The government aims to encourage companies in economic crisis not to dismiss their employees, but rather to negotiate reduced working hours and proportional salary reductions with labour unions. Companies that participate in the EPP will save money not only by reducing production costs, but also through the proportional reduction of employees' salaries. Likewise, employees will benefit as they will not lose their jobs.

    In order to participate in the EPP, companies must execute special collective bargaining agreements, stating the intended reduction in working hours and the duration of the reduction. Agreements must be approved by affected employees.
    In addition, the following conditions must be met:
    • All of the company's employees or a whole division of the company must be part of the plan.
    • All participating employees' salaries must be higher than the legal minimum wage.
    • Participating employees may not be dismissed without cause while the EEP is in effect and for an additional one-third of the relevant period.
    • The company must comply with all applicable tax and social contribution requirements.
    If a company agrees to comply with the related obligations, it must submit an online request to the appropriate government agency, attaching the agreement and proof of its economic crisis status. In accordance with the EPP, a company will be considered in crisis if it has dismissed more employees than it has hired in the last year. For example, if a company had 1,000 employees in July 2014 and by July 2015 had dismissed 120 employees and hired only 100, it would be eligible to participate in the EPP.
    Notwithstanding that, to be part of the plan companies must also prove that they have already granted employees applicable holiday entitlements and used all of the hours in the bank of hours (ie, the written agreement under which employees are entitled to paid time off work instead of overtime pay), where applicable.
    If the EPP Commission approves an employer's request, the company will be part of the EPP. Once approved, the company is authorised to reduce its employees' working hours by up to 30% and proportionally reduce affected employees' salaries. To minimise the impact on employees, the government will contribute up to 50% of their reduced salaries (limited to R$900). In practice, this means that if a company reduces an employee's working hours by 30%, he or she will have his or her salary reduced by only 15%, as the government will provide the other 15%.
    Breaches of obligations
    If the obligations set out in the EPP are not complied with, the government may suspend or cancel the offending company's participation in the EPP.
    In addition, if a company commits fraud in relation to the EPP, it will have to return the government's monetary contributions and pay a fine of 100% of the applicable amount.
    Apart from the related obligations, companies have raised several doubts with regard to the plan.
    One of the uncertainties that companies face stems from the fact that the EPP may be valid for only six months (renewable for up to another six months). After that, the job stability obligation for participating employees will still apply (in this case, for a further four months). However, there is no guarantee that the company will no longer be in crisis. As such, the company may still face economic issues, while being obliged to comply with the obligations set out in the EPP.
    In this sense, companies must evaluate whether existing legal options for dealing with economic crisis are more appropriate.
    One alternative available to companies is the layoff system, which allows companies to suspend employment agreements for two to five months through the execution of special collective bargaining agreements. In such cases, employees must participate in a professional qualification course. During the suspension term, the employee will receive two-thirds of his or her monthly salary through public unemployment insurance (ie, the government pays his or her salary). In this case, no job stability applies.
    The success of the EPP is still uncertain and will depend on how optimistic companies are in relation to when their economic crisis should end and whether they will be able to adhere to all related obligations.
    For further information of this topic please contact Vilma Toshie Kutomi or Nathiê Tielle Mattos Luz at Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados by telephone (+55 11 3147 7600) or email (vilma.kutomi@mattosfilho.com.br or nluz@mattosfilho.com.br. The Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados website can be accessed at www.mattosfilho.com.br.
    ILO provides online commentaries as specialist Legal Newsletters. Written in collaboration with over 500 of the world's leading experts and covering more than 100 jurisdictions, it delivers individually requested information via email to an influential global audience of law firm partners and international corporate counsel... ILO is [also] a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. In-house corporate counsel and other users of legal services, as well as law firm partners, qualify for a free subscription. Register at www.iloinfo.com.

  2. Daimler Tries to Kill French 35-Hour Workweek, by Mathieu Rosemain & Gregory Viscusi, (8/11 late pickup) Bloomberg.com
    HAMBACH, France - The French 35-hour workweek lives -- barely.
    Daimler AG is the latest company to try and skirt the uniquely French law, introduced in 2000 by the then-Socialist government. The German company wants workers at one of its two French factories [Hambach and ??] to put in more hours, hinting that it’ll take operations elsewhere if no accord is reached.
    Faced with an unemployment rate [of ??% - poor reporting, Matheiu & Greg!] stuck at an 18-year high, President Francois Hollande, who was the general secretary of Socialist Party when the 35-hour workweek bill was created, has sought to make the labor market more flexible. His so-called employment-securization bill adopted in June 2013, which allows companies to temporarily change the number of working hours in exchange for a guarantee to keep jobs, is emboldening the likes of Daimler to chip away at the much-derided workweek.
    [Yet another case of "the stone which the builders refused [shall] become the head stone of the corner." Ps.118:22: Math.21:42,Mark12:10,Luk.20:17,Act.4:11,1Pet.2:7. Jesu, Jesu, it's in the running for the thing that the Bible warns us against most, and what the hay do we do? sucker ourselves into it again and again!]
    “It’s the beginning of the end of the 35-hour week,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Euler Hermes in Paris. “Intelligent managers talk to the unions, they look at the numbers, they look at the competition, and they make it work for them. You will see innovative ways of going around this problem of the 35 hours.”
    France has lagged behind other European countries in loosening labor laws. Gerhard Schroeder, Germany’s last Social Democrat leader, pushed through his “Agenda 2010” package, cutting long-term benefits and enabling firms to opt out of national labor accords. Spain in 2012 allowed firms to negotiate their own pacts and reduced severance pay. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Jobs Act this year overhauled the labor market to make hiring and firing easier, and simplified the country’s jungle of work contracts.
    [The more you loosen labor laws and immigration laws, the more you weaken wages and domestic consumer spending - and marketable productivity and stable investment - and the more of your money supply you effectively take right out of circulation and send into storage in the topmost brackets.]
    Chipping Away
    Every government in France since 2000 has weakened the 35-hour law without actually revoking it. While the idea of the law was to create jobs by sharing work, economists are divided on whether it succeeded. Opponents say it has made France uncompetitive.
    [though what's wrong with being uncompetitive in a race to the bottom? And the original "corelation" with the 35-hour law is 1% less unemployment (UE) per hourcut from the workweek, despite no deliberate overtime-to-jobs conversion: UE in 1997 when the 35-hour law was voted in was 12.6% and UE in spring 2001 after it was fully implemented and before the US-led recession hit was 8.6% - do the math!]
    Hollande’s government extended the number of years over which the hours can be increased to five from two in a law recently pushed through by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron. The government also promoted negotiations at the company level, in a major break from previous Socialist governments’ “one-size fits all” approach.
    “The government trusts that social dialog as close to the ground as possible will allow favorable solutions for both employees and companies,” a spokeswoman for the Labor Ministry said in an e-mail in response to questions sent by Bloomberg.
    No government had dared return to a 39-hour workweek in the face of opposition from national unions. Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2007 abolished payroll tax on overtime, cutting companies’ cost for employees who work more than 35 hours a week. Hollande brought back the payroll tax while making it easier to fire workers and negotiate labor accords.
    Daimler’s Talks
    Fifteen years after the 35-hour law took effect, the French don’t necessarily work less than their neighbors. French full-time employees worked an average of 40.5 hours a week in 2014, just an hour less than the European average, according to Eurostat.
    Still, “no one has an easy solution for the extremely complicated labor code in France,” said Subran. “At a local level, companies are trying to make things happen, and they are doing it by putting stakeholders around the table.”
    Daimler started negotiations in June with labor representatives of its more than 800-employee Smart plant in Hambach in north-eastern France to increase the workweek to 39 hours between 2016 and 2018. It is offering to pay additional 6 euros for each of the additional hour, lower than the legal minimum gross hourly wage of 9.61 euros, said CFDT union representative Patrick Hoszkowicz, adding that the company is also offering a one-time bonus of 1,000 euros to all employees if a deal is struck.
    Daimler declined to provide details of the negotiations, which will resume in September.
    Wage Freeze
    Daimler joins a string of companies that have sought to circumvent the 35-hour workweek law. In 2004, employees at a Bosch factory near Lyon that makes solar panels and diesel systems agreed to work more days a year for no extra pay to prevent the plant from moving to the Czech Republic.
    In 2010, workers at a General Motors factory making transmissions agreed to fewer holidays to keep their plant open.
    PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA, the two French carmakers, both signed labor agreements with union representatives in 2013 to increase work flexibility and freeze wages. In Renault’s case, the accord allowed it to increase the workweek to 35 hours from 32.
    The public sector isn’t far behind. The Paris hospital system is negotiating a labor accord that it hopes will reduce the number of days off nurses get in exchange for overtime.
    Still, Daimler -- whose spokesman Sebastian Wahle said the talks in France are part of efforts to improve “competitiveness to ensure viability” of all production sites -- faces an uphill battle amid union opposition.
    “It’s a way to freeze wages without any guarantees in return,” labor leader Hoszkowicz said.

8/11/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Magistrate raps authorities for lax controls on working hours, by Matthew Agius, MaltaToday.com
    VALETTA, Malta - A magistrate has criticised lax controls on working hours for police and staff at Identity Malta saying they had led [sic] let [=ours] a trivial incident, caused by misunderstanding queue procedures, escalate into an arrest.
    [Better to simply and strictly control overall working hours than be forced to micromanage everything that goes on within those hours.]
    49-year-old Swieqi resident Yinette Consuelo Guaquirian Pedrique had been arrested last month following an incident which occurred on the 15th of June at Evans Building in Valletta.
    PC Anthony Theuma had told the court how the Venezuelan woman had asked to be allowed to sit inside the Identity Malta offices - rather than queue outside - on medical grounds.
    However once inside, the woman had gone up to the reception desk and demanded she be given a number for her place in the queue. Several other people in the queue had complained, leading to the woman being asked to return the number which she had been given.
    The officer said that she had refused, instead repeatedly shouting "f*** you" at the employees. Asked to intervene by the security staff, Constable Theuma had tried to restore order, but was assaulted by the woman, before he succeeded to snatching ticket from her hands.
    The court was told that around 20 minutes after the incident, the woman had gone to the passport office and assaulted a security guard, kicking and punching him.
    PC Theuma, who had volunteered for duty that morning after a completing a 12 hour shift, was once again called to provide back up. At one point, the officer allegedly told the accused to look out for the low barrier behind her, as she had started to move backwards. This notwithstanding, the woman tripped over the barrier, injuring herself.
    She had subsequently filed a report on the incident at the police headquarters claiming that the policeman had pushed her. But after viewing CCTV footage of the incident, Pedrique was charged with knowingly accusing PC Theuma of a crime he did not commit, breaching the peace, disobeying police orders and obstructing a police officer from carrying out his duties.
    In a 22-page judgment, containing a wealth of references to jurisprudence and doctrine established by legal scholars, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud dissected the offences with which she had been charged: calumny, fabricating evidence, obstruction and assault; and found that none of the requisites for conviction were present.
    “The prosecution should have shown more caution instead of rushing to press charges,”said the court, pointing out that “a decision on the question of guilt relies on the Court’s appreciation of the facts and not the prosecution’s beliefs...based on footage which could be interpreted in a number of ways leading to different conclusions.”
    The magistrate suggested Identity Malta invest in the publication of a multilingual information leaflet informing visitors to Evans Building of the queuing procedures and waiting times.
    He was “not at all happy” with the way the incident was dealt with by the security official and the policeman who was called to assist him, also saying that the fact that the security guard was wearing Bermuda shorts and nothing to identify him as a member of staff was unacceptable. This, said the court, could have lead the woman to mistake the guard for another member of the public waiting to be served.
    It also noted with displeasure the dearth of evidence of what happened when the woman was taken to the Valletta police station after the incident in the “half-hearted case file.” It had been alleged that the accused and a friend of hers had been sent from the station to a health centre before being allowed to file their report, but that they had not returned to do so and no incident report was filed on the police computer system. The court, however, also took into account the fact that the Valletta police station was overstretched due to a lack of human resources.
    The court only found Pedrique guilty of the contravention of making a noisy public disturbance and limited itself to giving the woman a rebuke and a warning.
    Police inspectors Justin Camilleri and Priscilla Caruana prosecuted. Lawyers Andrew Sciberras and Lara Dimitrijevic defended Pedrique.
    Court reporter Matthew Agius is also a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to reading Law at the University of Malta, Matthew served in the British Army.

  2. ISU limits some work hours due to ACA, by Lenore Sobota lsobota@pantagraph.com, Pantagraph.com
    NORMAL, Illin., USA — Because of the Affordable Care Act [ACA], Illinois State University [ISU] is limiting the weekly work hours of certain employees to 28 hours.
    [The right deed for the wrong reason?]
    Fewer than 200 people are affected, according to Tammy Carlson, assistant vice president for human resources at ISU.
    They are student workers, graduate assistants, civil service extra help and other employees who are not eligible for the state's Central Management Services group insurance because they don't meet the definition of a full-time employee, said Greg Alt, vice president for finance and planning. However, if they work 30 or more hours a week, the university would have to offer them insurance coverage or face significant fines under the ACA.
    ISU could face penalties estimated as high as $17 million annually for not providing coverage to at least 85 percent of full-time employees as defined by the ACA, according to an email sent to university management officials.
    The act's definition of “full-time employee” differs from the definition of full-time employee under the group insurance plan.
    The problem is that the university can't find anyone to provide coverage for people who fall into that gap, Alt said.
    ISU has worked with other universities to put together a consortium and jointly seek insurance for those who fall into this category but, Alt said, those efforts have failed.
    Alt said the university has worked with two consultants and made three requests for proposals but did not receive a single bid.
    “It is such an unknown population,” Alt said, that insurance companies apparently assume “there's not enough business there to be worthwhile.”
    All students are able to obtain student insurance and would be unlikely to opt for the other coverage, said ISU spokesman Eric Jome.
    There are 54 student workers and 13 graduate assistants who came close to the 30-hour-a-week trigger, Carlson said.
    There were also 87 civil service extra help workers, who are generally temporary, seasonal workers — such as summer groundskeepers — that are affected, officials said.
    Another 19 are administrative/professional employees who only work at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and there is one non-tenure-track faculty member who likely would be eligible for group insurance in the second semester, Carlson said.
    “These are the people we would be at risk of not being able to offer coverage,” she said.
    The steps taken by the university may mean a decrease in working hours for some of the employees, according to Carlson.
    The email from the university said, “Human Resources will immediately begin to work with individual departments who have employees that have been identified as having a history of exceeding this new limit, to identify options for managing operational needs and to provide assistance to departments who need to communicate the changes with employees."
    [However -]
    Cutting hours to dodge ACA may violate ERISA, BusinessManagementDaily.com
    DALLAS, Tex., USA - In the brave new benefits world defined by Obamacare, a new creature has sprung forth: the ERISA challenge.
    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act [ERISA] protects employees’ pension and benefit rights. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most employers to offer health coverage to all full-time employees, which the ACA defines as those who work at least 30 hours a week. If they don’t, they must pay a $2,000 per employee penalty.
    Some employers have tried a third approach to avoid the ACA’s employer mandate: reducing employees’ hours so they no longer qualify as full-time employees under the law.
    It’s a risky strategy, as the Dave & Buster’s restaurant chain [HQ: Dallas] has learned. An employee whose hours were reduced is suing, claiming that the employer violated ERISA Section 510, which states:
    It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or discriminate against a participant or beneficiary for exercising any right to which he is entitled under the provisions of an employee benefit plan, this title, section 3001 [29 USC §1201], or the Welfare and Pension Plans Disclosure Act, or for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the plan, this title, or the Welfare and Pension Plans Disclosure Act.
    The employee alleges that cutting her hours below 30 per week interfered with her attainment of a right—her right to health coverage. To win, she will have to show that Dave & Buster’s intended to interfere with her rights.
    Traditionally, employers have won Section 510 cases by showing they had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for taking action.
    This case, however, is the first to allege that reducing hours to avoid either offering coverage or paying the ACA’s prescribed penalty violates Section 510. Employers should keep an eye on the case to see if the courts agree.
    Advice: Two key Supreme Court decisions notwithstanding, the ACA has not been extensively litigated. That means it’s a crap-shoot when an ACA-related case reaches court. Talk to your attorney before changing staffing levels or adjusting hours to stay under the ACA’s compliance thresholds.

8/09-10/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Parliamentary panel asks finance ministry to make 15% of PSB branches all-women offices, by PTI, 8/09 Economic Times via economictimes.indiatimes.com
    NEW DELHI, India - A parliamentary panel has recommended making at least 15 per cent Public Sector Banks (PSBs) branches all-women offices to provide safe and convenient work environment to women in the banking sector.
    It has also recommended flexible working hours for women employees to help them balance their professional and family responsibilities.
    [Again, the key issue relegated to an afterthought. So does this mean "flexible" includes shorter?]
    In a report on 'Working Conditions of Women in Public Sector Banks', the panel said that PSBs should be instructed by the Finance Ministry to open at least 15 per cent of their branches as all-women units, especially in those parts of the country where discrimination against women has traditionally been on the higher side than the rest of the country.
    "It will make womenfolk feel comfortable to access a banking system that is devoid of gender-biases as well as is non-discriminatory towards them," the Committee on Empowerment of Women said in its report.
    The report said the government should also work out the modalities for introducing flexible working hours for women employees in PSBs. "As flexi working hours will allow women employees to strike a balance between her professional and family responsibility, maintain healthy lifestyles and contribute to parenting well, it is recommended for the same and urge upon the government to work out the modalities in this direction," it said.
    The Committee asked the banks to take a lenient view regarding transfer of women employees.
    "There arises the need for the banks to take the most lenient view while taking decisions regarding posting of women employees, keeping in view her spouse's place of posting, her obligation towards offsprings and also the dwelling place of parents in case she is as yet not married," it said.
    The PSBs have a total staff strength of about 8,57,868. Of this, women employees account for 1,96,374, constituting 24 per cent of the total workforce as of September, 2014. Among them 72,625 are officers, 1,02,354 clerks, and 20,475 women work at the level of sub-staff.

  2. In 1930, economist John Keynes predicted we'd only work 15 hours a week — here's one theory why he was wrong, by Shana Lebowitz, 8/10 BusinessInsider.com
    [Kinda naive - there's still a lot of future left for him to be right in. And since it's becoming a system requirement ]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In 1930, British economist John Keynes wrote an essay called "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren." In the essay, he made the now-famous assertion that his grandchildren's generation (meaning people in the workforce today) would only work 15 hours a week.
    Needless to say, Keynes was wrong — especially about Americans. The OECD estimates that Americans logged 34 hours a week in 2010, and that's including part-time workers. Gallup reports that the average full-time American put in nearly 47 hours a week in 2014.
    On a recent episode of Planet Money, hosts Robert Smith and David Kestenbaum discussed why Keynes was so far off-base — and what really motivates us to work so much.
    One guest on the show was Richard Freeman, Ph.D., a professor of economics at Harvard University. In a book chapter titled "Why Do We Work More Than Keynes Expected?," Freeman explains the increase in work hours through the substitution effect. On the Planet Money episode, the hosts put Freeman's theory into simpler terms.
    The substitution effect is the opposite of the wealth effect. According to the wealth effect, when people get rich, they can afford more leisure time.
    But according to the substitution effect, the hosts explain, "the more money you earn, the less likely you are to indulge in leisure." That's because your time at work is worth more than a lower-income person's time at work.
    The hosts offer an example: If there's a choice between going to the beach and going to the office, someone who earns $400 a day might opt to go into the office. Presumably, someone who only earns $100 a day might head straight for the beach.
    "Which is more valuable?" the hosts ask. "Working or what I'm gonna do when I'm not working?"
    One result of the substitution effect, as Freeman observes in "Why Do We Work More Than Keynes Expected?": In the second half of the 20th century in the US, "the workaholic rich replaced the idle rich." Instead of poorer people working more than wealthier people, the opposite became true.
    As for whether we should rue the reversal of this trend in work hours, Freeman doesn't think so.
    [A case of misery loves (self-righteousness and) company?]
    In the book chapter, he writes, "thank heavens Keynes was wrong about the strength [weakness] of human devotion to work.
    ["Human devotion to work"? Isn't this a rather rosy description of needing to make a living? or worse, of workaholism? of fear of the most basic freedom= job-secure free time? of prisoners loving their chains? This is like thanking heavens for hell.]
    There is so much to learn and produce and improve that we should not spend more than a dribble of time living as if we were in Eden."
    [Setting aside the confusion and neglect here of the requirement that work be paid to be real work, what about when, due to robotization and A.I., natural market-demanded working hours become the largest and most negatively influential vanishing resource, and the desperation to produce something, anything, that might sell, becomes not only frivolous but environment-degrading, like the desperation for irrigation in California and the resulting drought? Freeman better take a look at Diamond's book ("Collapse") on what happened on Easter Island.]

8/08/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Jackson city employees to begin furloughs, ClarionLedger.com
    JACKSON, Miss., USA - City of Jackson employees will be furloughed one day per month starting in October, a city spokeswoman told a local television station Friday.
    WLBT-TV said it obtained documents citing the city’s $15 million budget deficit as the reason for the furloughs.
    “We understand that there have been several factors contributing to our current budget situation. It did not happen overnight,” city spokeswoman Shelia Byrd told WLBT in a statement. “It is the result of declining revenue; budget practices that did not ensure viability, such as using the city’s cash reserve to balance the budget, and adhering to fee policies that do not reflect the economics of the day.”
    City offices and operations will be shut down for the day on Oct. 16 and every fourth Friday for two budget years. Exceptions are part-time workers and essential police and fire department employees, Byrd told WLBT.
    [Furloughs, not firings = Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    The once-a-month furlough will not impact fire and police services,” Byrd told the TV station. “Public safety was a priority in this planning."

  2. Does France’s 35 Hour Work Week Produce Results? by Eva du Monteil, XpatNation.co
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA – When discussing productivity, France’s 35-hour work week often causes controversy. For 15 years now, France has implemented a law that would dramatically change its labor market.
    Americans are all against it, largely because they believe a significant drop in their working hours would harm the country’s competitiveness and economy as a whole.
    Yet, a company in Oregon [Treehouse] most recently adopted a 32 hours workweek policy, raising questions on the merits, if any, of the French law.
    [Uh, shouldn't this say something more like, "raising questions on the criticisms of dropping working hours"?!]
    According to the company in question, the measure would boost productivity and increase retention. If a unilateral initiative may fill these goals, a detour to France proves that reducing working hours at the macro level is a poor decision.
    [Huh? Shouldn't this say something more like, "if a micro-level initiative may fill these goals, the example of France proves that reducing working hours at the macro level may is a good decision that fills these goals even better"?! Eva du Monteil seems to be suffering from some kind of inverted thinking.]
    How France Transitioned to A 35 Hour Work Week
    At the turn of the 21th C. [sic; make that 21st Century, & it was 1996, not 99-00], France struggled with high unemployment. The socialist government (Note: France was ruled by right-winged [sic] President Jacques Chirac but had a left-wing government [of PM Lionel Jospin] in power) decided that a significant reduction in the number of hours that an employee can work during the week will enable job creation by forcing companies to compensate the loss by hiring more.
    [Eva also apparently finds it a challenge to write in English. OK, let's switch to strike-through where necessary.]
    As a result, then Work Minister Martine Aubry drafted a law that would changed the labor market in France: force all companies of 20 employees or more to reduce their average work week to 35 hours instead of 39. Concretely, that meant that full time employees would be paid the equivalent of 39 hours but only work 35.
    Needless say, the idea appealed very much to labor unions, civil servants and shortsighted idealists who knew little about macroeconomics.
    [Or were they actually farsighted idealists who saw that the kneejerk downsizing response to worksaving technology was creating a problem of increased productivity and decreased marketability? Seems like Eva has joined the American cult of Work Hard To Get Ahead - regardless of robotization and AI.]
    The transition would be done in two steps: first, an experimental process (1998-1999) would enable employee-employer to hold negotiations company by company. Companies that would commit to creating jobs under the measure would receive substantial tax exonerations [taxbreaks]. Second, a standard measure would be introduced at the national level (since 2000).
    [Actually the right-of-center UDF party introduced the company-by-company Robien Law in 1996, whereby companies willing to cut 10% workweek and hire 10% more workforce would get a 10% taxbreak for 7 years, or a 15% option was offered as well.]
    The law was popular at the time: in depressed areas particularly, the unemployed and population at risk, including youth and seniors, believed that the new measure would enable them to return to the job market.
    Staffers, too, welcomed the ‘Aubry Law’, France’s official name for the 35-hour work week law: they would work less, but for the same wage, hereby increasing the value of their hourly wage. Large companies had the option to hire additional workers or pay overtime, and companies under 20 employees were given two years to adjust to the new measure.
    However, conservative economists and the employers union warned against its side effect[s], arguing that it would be unsustainable and costly and would not result in the promised new jobs. President Chirac, too, was skeptical, dubbing the socialist law a ‘hazardous experiment’.
    What Happened Next
    Following the implementation of the law at the national level, economists saw a noticeable decrease in the amount of time worked: companies played the game. Well, they were forced or to do so, or else they’d be penalized.
    In theory, the new measure was supposed to increase job creation, but its effects proved uncertain.
    [How uncertain is it that French unemployment reached 12.6% in 1997 when the Aubry Law was voted in, but declined to 8.6% in spring 2001 before the US-led recession hit France? That's 4% cut in unemployment for a 4-hour cut in the workweek (39 to 35 hours), 1% less joblessness for every 1-hour cut, same results as the USA got 1938-1940 in cutting from 44 hours a week (19.0% unemployment) to 40 hours (14.6%). Current fashion among scientists taboos postulating cause&effect = certainty, but this is a pretty interesting "corelation."]
    Originally, the objective was to create 700,000 new jobs in 2000. Today, most economists agree that some 350,000 new jobs only were created as a result of the 35-hour workweek. The desired snowball effect never came. [For two reasons: (1) France never moved to vigorously convert chronic overtime into jobs - and training whenever needed, and (2) France took the naive position that some lower workweek could be frozen and forever-valid regardless of the fact that nobody was freezing the amount of worksaving technology being introduced into the French economy - the desired snowball effect would have come if France had moved to further trim the workweek as much as it took to provide full-employment levels of convertible overtime. And who cares about the objective or "most" economists' estimate of the result? Unemployment before the law was 12.6% and after its full implementation, 8.6%. All the rest is workaholic bloviation.]
    Worse, economists estimate that the 35-hour workweek costs France at least €22 billion euros a year ($24 billion) in exemptions from social charges alone.
    [This should say, "some economists" - and, uh, wouldn't these be many of the very same economists who don't like social charges aka taxes and actually WANT exemptions from them or less of them in the first place? Eva is now arguing for the other side!]
    Cost on France’s Competitiveness And Reputation
    Aside from damaging the national economy [which it did not, because as admitted below, France has some of the highest productivity anywhere], the Aubry law had negative effects on France’s competitiveness [so high productivity is uncompetitive?]: the implementation of the 35-hour week coincides with the decline of France’s export market share, remarkable since the beginning of the 2000s.
    [Has Eva looked at the decline in workaholic America's export market share? This is a function of Chinese and Third World "competitive" (in a race to the bottom) lack of labor standards - it has nothing, NOSSINK (Sgt. Schultz) to do with workweek length.]
    France’s trade balance, positive in 1999, has sunk into the red since the early 2000s.
    [Already in 1999, many French companies had moved into compliance with the Aubry Law. Indeed, 2000 French companies had cut hours to take advantage of the taxbreaks way back in the first two years of the Robien Law starting in 1996. And "since the early 2000s" includes a lot of measures by workaholic Pres. Sarkozy to weaken the 35-hour workweek via overtime-penalty non-enforcement, so this attempt to blame the 35 hours for everything is lame.]
    Foreign Direct Investment to the country has dropped by 94% of the last decade, to less than $5 billion in 2013 from an average of $84 billion a year in 2005-07 according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. All this could be the result of a higher labor cost.
    [No it couldn't. Besides, "higher labor costs" mean higher domestic consumer spending, from which comes growth in all other sectors.]
    As a result, numerous attempts have been made to repeal the Aubry law.
    [Pure control-freak stupidity.]
    In 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy granted social charge exemptions on overtime hours for employees and reduced their taxation, almost effectively putting an end to the law.
    [So why are we blanket-blaming the law for all French problems since then?]
    Francois Hollande’s leftist government also announced that they are working on a law that would put [a] de facto end to the 35-hour workweek before the end of the year.
    [Hollande is an idiot.]
    If introduced, the "reform" [our quotes; it's actually a sabotage] would enable companies that commit to either maintain jobs or make investments to bypass the law. It would require prior negotiations with employees unions and employees’ consent.
    However, such a law already exists but [is] only applied to companies facing financial difficulties. The law also authorizes employees to work up to 48 hours a week.
    [But why stop at that purely arbitrary level? Why not go back up to 54 or 60 or 66 or, as American medicos, 80?]
    A Failed Experiment? [Experiments can't "fail" because you always learn something.]
    That the Aubry law is so often on the line is telling.
    [Yes, it tells how scared some people are of losing facetime control, of increasing the most fundamental freedom= Free Time, and of really thinking outside the box.]
    Now widely unpopular in France [questionable: where's the data?], it has indeed harmed the image of the France labor market abroad [who cares? the French know how to live and work to live, not live to work]: lazy and unwilling to work, the French are portrayed as complacent employees largely disinterested in creating value for the company.
    [Then, as mentioned below, whence French productivity? And why should employees be any more loyal to The Company than employers are to them?]
    While the French do work less on average than most EU members, this is however far from the truth: stats show that French workers bypass the 35-hour cap and actually work 39.4 hours a week without necessarily reporting overtime.
    That’s all the more true for labor-intensive jobs and industries that traditionally require a strong human presence, like construction and hospitality. For chefs, waiters, plumbers, and of course, small business owners (who make up 80% of the working population in France!) things haven’t changed at all.
    Not all want to see the law repealed, though: health workers have already taken down [to] the streets to protest against the reform. For them, longer hours are fine[?], but overtime should be compensated more generously.
    Additionally, productivity in France is one of [among] the highest in the world.
    [= nothing to do with France's leadership with the lowest nationwide workweek?]
    Therefore, the global perception that France is a country where workers work very little is largely fallacious.
    What’s hard to measure however is whether or not the Aubry law has impacted quality of life and overall happiness, and if so, to what extent.
    [Oops, so she gets to the end and doesn't answer the question in her title = bait&switch.]

8/07/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Work-Life Balance: 5 Ways Weekends Can Boost Your Productivity Monday Through Friday, by Jacqueline Whitmore, Entrepreneur.com
    PALM BEACH, Fla., USA – A long, stress-filled workweek can drain all your energy and leave you exhausted by Friday afternoon. Then on Monday morning, you know you have to start the whole cycle all over again.
    You need rest, relaxation and rejuvenation to be refreshed and ready to work. Weekends are an ideal time to recharge your depleted energy reserves by reconnecting with the power sources that fuel your mind, body and spirit.
    Here are five ways to bring your mental and physical batteries back up to full capacity so you can hit the ground running come Monday morning:
    1. Get centered.
    With the 24-7 mentality of business owners, most entrepreneurs are especially driven by both nature and necessity. During the workweek, you’re probably forced to juggle many responsibilities to keep up and stay ahead.
    On the weekend, give yourself the gift of time. Sit in a quiet space and find some inner peace. A few minutes of meditation, journal writing, stretching and other forms of calming contemplation can provide a replenishing respite that brings you back in touch with your true self.
    2. Get moving.
    When you engage in enjoyable exercise, like morning yoga, tennis, walking or swimming, it reinvigorates your body and mind. If you’ve been straining your eyes and tensing your shoulders by sitting in front of a computer all week, it’s time to move your body and relieve some of the pent-up stress that builds up during a largely-sedentary workweek.
    Lose yourself in activities that take your mind away from your day-to-day work. Savor the energy that surges through your muscles as you use them. Reconnect with the natural world through outdoor activities like hiking, biking, surfing or running. Get out of the house and into the fresh air. You will feel refreshed and rejuvenated. You’ll most likely sleep better, too.
    3. Get nourished.
    If you’re used to eating quick meals at your desk or on the fly during your overbooked workweek, take time to enjoy healthy whole foods on the weekend. Eat foods that will boost your immune system and provide long-lasting energy. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and rich sources of protein replenish essential vitamins and minerals that may be missing in your everyday diet. If you enjoy cooking, try out some new recipes at home or take a cooking class.
    4. Get away from digital devices.
    If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably connected at the hip by a constantly-buzzing smartphone. Most of us spend more time interfacing with computer screens than communicating face-to-face with other human beings. We feel the pressure to be “connected” all the time, but spending too much time online can make you feel sluggish.
    The weekend allows time to unplug from the virtual world and do something analog instead. Lose yourself in a good book, go to a concert, or pursue your own creative aspirations. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. Millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist's life.
    5. Get together with friends and family.
    If you’re so busy running your business rather than spending time with the people who are most important to you, you’re not alone. Most people are super-busy these days; entrepreneurs especially so. Reconnect with those in your life who are most important. Set aside some time to nurture the strong personal relationships that make life meaningful and keep you going through challenging times. Spend quality time with loved ones on your days off and you will maintain those life-affirming ties that will sustain your energy throughout the workweek.
    Succeeding as an entrepreneur takes lots of hard work, determination and focus, all of which are fueled by energy. Plug in to activities that re-energize you on your days off and you’ll be fully charged to start each new week feeling refreshed and ready to be your best self.

  2. Is an 80-hour work week worth it? Thoughts on overtime and working long hours, by Todd Clausen, DemocratAndChronicle.com
    We asked some local workers how they feel about working more than 40 hours a week and a proposed changes [sic] to overtime rules.
    ROCHESTER, N.Y., USA - Amanda DeFisher is a thirty-something trying to get ahead by putting in massive work hours each week.
    By day, she’s a project manager at Wayne County-based OptiPro. By night, she’s co-owner of Abode, a vintage furniture and home decor shop in Rochester’s South Wedge. She’s working about 80 hours a week, and as a new small-business owner, she’s forgoing a paycheck to get ahead.
    [The difference between art and art therapy is, does it pay? And if you're "working" without pay, it's not work - it's either slavery, education, or hobby.]
    “By Friday evening, I hit the wall,” said the 32-year-old. “When everyone else is going out, I’m home in my pajamas. I’m missing out on a lot of events; missing weddings, friends, family and big events and dating life — all of those things. It makes it tough.”
    It’s not just the emerging small-business owner, but workers of all sorts who are finding the 9-to-5, 40-hour-a-week job is something of a rarity.
    Rochester resident Corey Listar, 44, is a staffing operations manager for Oldcastle in its recruiting office in the city. Work weeks of about 55 hours are the norm, he said.
    Greece resident Allison Osipovitch, 42, is a care coordinator at an assisted living center in Penfield, a part-time bartender and has a per diem job to help pay the bills with her husband’s upcoming medical leave for work. She puts in about 60 hours a week.
    Penfield resident Ralph Meranto, 51, is the artistic director at JCC’s CenterStage Theatre. He said he averages about 50 hours a week. It increases during the build-up to shows.
    Rochester resident Paulie D’Arienzo, 29, is a sales consultant for Profit Strategies. After putting in more than 40 hours a week at the firm’s Linden Avenue location, he often works a few hours at night from home to stay on top of things.
    “You have to go out there and work your tail off for it,” he said.
    [So, no choice during a mounting labor surplus? And this is an age of robotics and AI = more worksaving technology than ever before in history. How reconcile this contradiction? Freezing the workweek after 100 years of reducing it and building up a labor surplus by downsizing during the introduction of worksaving technology injects job insecurity for everyone and disempowers employees so they suicidally work longer hours and worsen the labor surplus. How reverse this death spiral? Temporary worksharing and permanent Timesizing.]

8/06/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Reed Seeks to Extend Cost-Effective, Job-Saving Layoff Prevention Act - Jack Reed’s law has helped businesses save 1,500 jobs in RI & over 140,000 jobs nationwide, (8/05 late pickup) press release via reed.senate.gov
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – In an effort to ensure employers can maintain a skilled workforce, and help workers keep their jobs during a temporary business decline, U.S. Senator Jack Reed introduced the Layoff Prevention Extension Act of 2015, a bill to extend the financing and grant provisions for the successful “work sharing” law Reed authored as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. As a result of Senator Reed’s efforts, an estimated $500 million in federal funding was made available to help states adopt or expand a short-term compensation program alternative to layoffs.
    The concept of “work sharing” is simple: it helps people who are currently employed, but in danger of being laid off, to keep their jobs during a business slow down or market shift. By giving struggling companies the flexibility to reduce hours instead of their workforce, work sharing programs prevent layoffs and help employers save money on rehiring costs. Employees who participate in work sharing keep their jobs -- along with health and retirement benefits -- and receive a portion of unemployment insurance benefits to make up for lost wages when their hours are reduced.
    “It’s often said that the best job program is a job. That’s what work sharing is all about. It is a proven, cost-effective program that saves jobs. It benefits taxpayers, businesses, and workers. Extending this program for another two years would allow for more communities to benefit and save money while helping more workers earn a steady paycheck, and allowing companies to save when they’re forced to temporarily scale back. The program has been successful in red states and blue states, and as more people become aware of the benefits, more states are implementing and effectively promoting work share programs,” said Reed. “Extending this successful work sharing program for another two years is a smart investment in averting future layoffs and blunting economic downturns.”
    Since becoming law [in 2012], Reed’s work sharing law has helped save over 140,000 jobs nationwide, including 1,500 jobs in Rhode Island, according to estimates and analysis from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
    [Overall, worksharing programs in the U.S., mainly on the state level, have saved many hundreds of thousands of jobs since the downturn of 2008.]
    And it has saved states $265 million by reimbursing them for work sharing benefits they paid out to workers -- benefits that helped keep people on the job. Since the law was passed, Rhode Island has received $7.7 million in federal work sharing benefits and grants, according to DOL.
    Work sharing is paid for by the employers through their regular UI tax contribution or reimbursement process, with no deductions taken from employee wages to pay for the temporary benefits.
    Before Reed’s bill became law (Pub. L. 112-96) in 2012, only a handful of states had work sharing programs. Now, such programs enjoy broad bipartisan support and have been established in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
    The $100 million in implementation grants made possible through Reed’s 2012 law expired at the end of 2014, and the 100 percent federal financing of these work sharing benefits will begin to expire at the end of this month. The Layoff Prevention Extension Act of 2015 would extend these deadlines by two years so that states with existing work sharing programs, and those that are looking to enact a program, can qualify for federal support.

  2. Stop blaming public service employees for financial woes, says BPSU President, TodayInBermuda.com
    HAMILTON, Bermuda - Too often some members of the public are eager to blame the Island’s woes on public service employees rather than on the policies and political decisions enacted by our politicians.
    [or by some members of the public who don't want to pay taxes, especially the wealthy, who if they want flat taxes, fine, let there be a flat tax on total wealth (idea credit to Charlie Freifeldt of Brookline MA), but if only on income, then a steeply graduated tax as the US had during those prosperous years during and after World War II.]
    This coming from Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] President Jason Hayward, via a press statement.
    "It appears as if many in this Country would like for all to believe that the Government’s financial woes are a result of having to pay public service employees’ salaries.
    Despite the claims that the Public Service is overstaffed and bloated, there has been no comprehensive analysis done to determine the optimum number of staff required to run the public service.
    It is important to note that the role of Bermuda’s Public Service is to serve society so that its citizens receive benefits to enable them to enjoy the standard of living that they do in Bermuda. These services include: defense and security, law and order, education, healthcare, physical infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications, revenue collection, etc.
    However, taxes are needed to fund these services. The priority should be to ensure that adequate taxes are collected rather than placing additional financial hardship on our public service employees. It is hypocritical for persons to continue to call for the reduction of public service jobs and wages while there are private sector companies who are not paying their fair share of taxes. The emphasis must be on shared sacrifice and a re-balancing of the burden.
    When persons call to cut public sector jobs, have they given critical thought to that suggestion? If the Government was to cut the public services employees, what next? As there are declining jobs in the economy, where do the displaced find alternative employment? What industry is hiring mass numbers of employees? Where would persons who have been made redundant find money to survive? Will this then result in an increased need for financial assistance? Let’s keep in mind that in 2014/15, approximately $53 million was spent on financial assistance with 2,727 persons receiving government support. Can we afford to increase this burden?
    Without public service employees, the country simply cannot function. Public service employees are taxpayers. They are also the largest employee consumer group on the Island. They are professionals dedicated to providing a service to this Island. They also have families to support. Despite the continuous attacks, public servants have remained productive with many having taken on additional tasks due to a reduction of public service employees.
    Public Servants have sacrificed in the last two years by saving the Government a significant amount of money through taking furloughs; a cost savings initiative that originated from the BTUC [Bermuda Trade Union Congress]. As a condition of the acceptance of furlough days, the BTUC insisted that the Economic Tripartite Committee be formed in an effort to work collaboratively to seek ways in which to address our current negative economic conditions.
    [Furloughs, not firings! Timesizing not downsizing!]
    In addition, public service unions made an unprecedented step by assisting the Government with expenditure reduction by suggesting approximately $65 million in cost savings; many of these suggestions came directly from public service employees.
    The BPSU will remain committed to encouraging our members to provide quality public services while at the same time defending public service employees against unwarranted attacks on their livelihood.

8/05/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. The ACA Is (Apparently) Here To Stay: What Employers Need To Know, by Jeffrey Smith, Fisher & Phillips LLP via LaborLawyers.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Now that the Supreme Court has, for the second time, upheld a major portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it might be a good time to review your practices to ensure you are in compliance. The ACA’s new concept of what it means to be a full-time employee can significantly change how you administer benefits during employee leave, and might require you to alter your practices.
    Many employers have also raised questions about whether the ACA’s new mandates change the timing of when they must offer COBRA to those employees on leave. This article will explore these common inquiries and provide some practical suggestions.
    Which Employees Are Full-Time?
    To comply with the Employer Mandate portion of the ACA, also known as the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment, employers who have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must make an affordable and adequate offer of group health plan coverage to their employees. Failure to do so raises the possibility of a stiff penalty. And therein lies the rub: “full-time” is no longer defined as 40 hours per week. Instead, employees who work just 30 hours or more per week (130 hours per month) are considered full-time under the ACA, and thus eligible for a group health plan.
    But the complexity doesn’t stop there. You can’t simply classify your employees into two categories – those who work 30 hours or more per week and those who work less – to determine who gets healthcare. Rather, you have to calculate who is full-time and who is not by using the “monthly measurement” method or the “lookback measurement and stability period” method. If you use the monthly measurement method, you grant group health plan coverage for a particular month to any employee who exceeds 130 hours for that particular month.
    Easy enough, right? For employees who consistently work more than 30 hours per week, yes. But for employees who work variable hours, applying this eligibility method could have them joining and leaving your plan on a monthly basis. Also, you don’t know until the end of the month which employees are eligible.
    For workers with part-time or variable hours, the lookback measurement and stability period method allows you to measure hours over a set measurement period, which could be as much as a calendar year, and apply the resulting status over a stability period, which, in most cases, would be the following calendar year. It is important to note that once employees achieve benefit-eligibility status, they maintain that status for an entire year, even if they work fewer hours than what is normally required to earn such benefits.
    Did You Write It Down?
    But figuring out who is eligible for coverage is only the first step. Next you must document your full-time employee eligibility policy, clearly communicate it to your HR staff, and incorporate it into your Plan Document and Summary Plan Description.
    Obviously, your full-time eligibility policy has to be more than just a simple statement along the lines of: “Employees who work 30 hours or more per week or more are eligible for coverage.” You must go much further and describe how your company will calculate eligibility.
    And while you’re at it, you should probably review your Plan Document and Summary Plan Description for compliance with the final, major ACA changes that go into effect by January 1, 2016. Some things to look for:
    • if you’re using a Plan Document provided by your insurance company or third-party administrator, make sure it is ERISA compliant (it may not be);
    • similarly, if all you have is a Certificate of Coverage from the insurer, it is most likely not compliant with ERISA’s Plan Document and Summary Plan Description requirements; and
    • finally, with the recent Supreme Court ruling extending marriage to same-sex couples, you’ll need to update the definition of “spouse” in your Plan Document if you haven’t already.
    How Does This Impact Employee Leave?
    Once you have decided how you will determine the full-time status of employees, and once you’ve written down those rules, you can tackle an issue that employers face nearly every day: how to treat employees during leaves of absence. In the past, employers subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would offer COBRA to employees who need additional time off upon the expiration of their protected FMLA leave. For employers not subject to FMLA, employees on approved leaves of absence would often be offered COBRA at the beginning of their leave.
    That option is no longer available for employers who use the lookback measurement and stability period method to calculate eligibility. That’s because workers may be eligible for healthcare coverage throughout their leave – even your company’s own additional medical leave policy – if it falls within the stability period. Put another way, as long as the employee remains in your employment, they are entitled to employer-subsidized medical benefits for the duration of the stability period, whether they’re working or on leave.
    The issues described in this article should be addressed with both your insurance advisor and your employee benefits counsel. If you have any questions about how these issues impact your company, contact your Fisher & Phillips attorney and ask them to introduce you to one of the attorneys in our Benefits Practice Group.
    Action Plan
    1. Develop a full-time employee eligibility policy.
    2. Update or draft Plan Documents and Summary Plan Descriptions.
    3. Incorporate the full-time employee eligibility policy into Plan Documents and Summary Plan Descriptions.
    4. Revise handbook and leave policies to coordinate with these new benefit plan provisions.
    5. Educate frontline HR staff that will be addressing these issues on a daily basis.
    For more information, contact the author at JDSmith@laborlawyers.com or 440.838.8800.

  2. State employee union files grievance over work hours at Nebraska prison where inmates rioted, by Grant Schulte, Associated Press via DailyJournal.net
    LINCOLN, Neb., USA — Nearly three months after a deadly Nebraska prison riot, corrections officers and caseworkers are still working 12-hour emergency shifts at the facility, a state union official said Wednesday.
    The union filed a complaint July 29 against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, accusing administrators of violating a state labor contract by refusing to negotiate the longer shifts, which were imposed after an inmate revolt at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in southeast Nebraska. Prison employees usually work eight-hour shifts.

    "We maintain that they need to sit down and negotiate how they're going to do this," said Mike Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees.
    [Gotta guard against LMHC = Lazy Mgmt Hours Creep, and keep pressing hours lower as technology climbs higher. Otherwise, the dread Ford-Reuther Paradox (which we're currently getting, in spades!): Henry Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Walter Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars."]
    The contract allows administrators to change employee schedules during an emergency, but Marvin said the continued shifts should be subject to negotiation.
    Two inmates died in the May 10 riot, which left two guards and four inmates injured. An investigative report released in June concluded that the riot started after too many prisoners were allowed to leave their cells at once to get medication while the prison was at minimum staffing levels. Staff members lost control of the situation in less than 20 minutes.
    The prison has remained on lockdown ever since, with restrictions on inmate movement and 12-hour work shifts for officers and caseworkers. The emergency shifts were initially required five days a week, but were reduced to four in late May.
    The Nebraska Association of Public Employees allowed the 12-hour shifts to continue for several weeks because the prison needed to address the emergency, according to the union's executive director, Mike Marvin. Marvin raised concerns about the shifts in a June 1 email to corrections director Scott Frakes and met with him the following day, according to the complaint.
    Marvin said he sent Frakes a union proposal for the shifts in mid-June, but it was rejected. Marvin said Frakes, who has promised to work with employees to improve the department's work culture, told him the department needed more time to hire employees at the Tecumseh prison to ease a staffing shortage. That facility has the highest employee turnover rate within the state prison system, and officers on average are less experienced.
    Marvin said the union isn't asking the department to revert back to eight-hour shifts immediately, but to negotiate when the longer shifts start and stop and when prison employees receive their third day off each week. The longer shifts were also imposed without taking seniority into account, he said.
    The complaint was filed with the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations, which rules on state labor disputes.
    Corrections spokesman James Foster said the department doesn't comment on legal proceedings. He also said the prison has not yet shifted back to normal operations.

8/04/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Adjustment of working hours for pregnant employees, employees looking after children or persons who are considered dependent of [sic; interpret as "indispensable to"] another individual´s assistance, by Michaela Hajkova J.D., Holec Zuska & Partners via Lexology.com
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Employers assigning employees to shifts also need to take into consideration the needs of female employees and male employees looking after children; this obligation arises pursuant to Section 241 para 1 of the Czech Labour Code (Act No. 262/2006 Coll., as amended, hereinafter the “LC”).
    According to Sec 241 para 2 LC, where
    • a female or male employee looking after a child who is under 15 years of age, or
    • a pregnant female employee, or
    • an employee who proves that he or she, mostly on his or her own, takes long-term care of a person who is, under the Act on Social Services (Act No. 108/2006 Coll., as amended), considered to be a person dependent on another individual's assistance and such dependency is classified by grade II (dependency of medium seriousness), grade III (serious dependency) or grade IV (full dependency),
    and this employee requests to work only part-time or requests some other suitable adjustment to her or his weekly working hours, the employer will be obliged to comply with such request unless this is prevented by serious operational reasons.
    The question of working hours adjustments for above-mentioned categories of employees and interpretation of the so-called “serious operational reasons” has been raised several times by the Czech Supreme Court (cf. decisions of the Czech Supreme Court, Ref. Nos. 21 Cdo 1561/2003 and 21 Cdo 612/2006). A Supreme Court decision of substantial importance had been published under Ref No. 21 Cdo 1821/2013 and the interpretation of Sec 241 LC contained therein can be summarized as follows:
    1. Part-time work or other corresponding adjustment of employee´s weekly working hours constitutes the right pertaining to the above specified categories of employees, and as such it is enforceable by courts if the employer does not comply voluntarily;
    2. If an employer rejects the employee´s request for adjustment of his/her weekly working hours, or if the employer cancels his previous decision on weekly working hours adjustment, the employer will be obliged to prove in court the existence of serious operational reasons which prevented him/her from complying with the employee´s request;
    3. “Operation” is interpreted as fulfilment of employer´s tasks or activities, especially tasks which are connected to production or provision of services, as well as other similar activities which are carried out on the employer´s behalf and at his own risk (responsibility);
    4. With regards to (non-)existence of serious operational reasons on the employer´s part, the crux lies in evaluating the impact on the employer´s operations if the employee´s working hours were adjusted in comparison with the employee working normal full-time hour (i.e. standard weekly working hours);
    5. The adjustment could then be denied only in cases where the employer´s operations were seriously paralyzed, disturbed or endangered;
    6. The decisive moment for evaluation of employer’s needs (and resulting decision) is the date of employee´s request.
    When deciding on the seriousness of the impact / operational reasons, the following circumstances should be especially taken into consideration:
    • the nature of the employer´s operation;
    • number of employees working for the employer and possibilities to substitute;
    • levels of employees´ remuneration; etc.
    Generally speaking, the higher the number of employees, the higher the possibility of their substitution, and, the more plentiful resources available to employers, the easier compliance with employee´s request for this kind of working hours adjustment.
    In case of Ref. No. 21 Cdo 1821/2013, the Czech Supreme Court has sustained that it is also possible to hire another employee on part-time basis (or an employee working on basis of an agreement on work performed outside an employment relationship, as stipulated in Section 74 et seq. LC), in order to satisfy the employee´s request for adjustment (reduction) of his/her working hours and to cover the employer´s needs for work, with respect to the fact that not all operational “problems” would constitute a rightful reason for rejecting an employee´s request to adjust working hours; denial is limited only to very serious and demonstrable operational reasons.

  2. Young doctors suffer hectic work hours - Bill proposed to limit medical trainees' weekly work hours to 80, by Chung Ah-young, KoreaTimes.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Song Myoung-je, a third year resident working at the emergency department of Myongji Hospital, says he and his colleagues often write "fake" shift reports to underreport their working hours to the health authorities. There are guidelines against working over 88 hours of per week for trainee doctors.
    Song, the president of the Korean Intern Resident Association, says that in reality, many young doctors in training are working more than 100 hours per week. Despite this, they cannot ask hospitals to cut their hours or request overtime pay because of poor legal protection.
    "I am relatively lucky. I work very hard while on duty and after work I can rest. But other interns and residents in different departments are severely exploited because there is no rule forcing hospitals to protect our rights," he said.
    To that end, Song welcomed a bill recently proposed by Rep. Kim Yong-ik of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) to improve the working conditions and status of medical trainees, which will also protect patients from possible errors committed by tired interns.
    This is the first move to better protect their rights since the medical training system was introduced in Korea in 1951.
    The bill aims to limit working hours to 80 per week from the current average of 100. It also plans to oblige trainees not to work for more than 20 hours straight, as well as guaranteeing their holidays. They will also have at least 10 hours rest between shifts under the bill.
    If hospitals don't keep the weekly work limit or refuse holidays, they will be subject to up to 10 million won in fines, according to the bill.

    "I've decided to try and improve the hectic working conditions of trainees because it not only threatens their learning but also the safety of patients," Kim said.
    Interns and residents have called for reducing their long work hours for a long time.
    Their voices grew louder after an incident where a trainee doctor who suffered from sleep deprivation and fatigue gave a wrong injection to a nine-year-old boy receiving treatment for leukemia in 2010. The boy died as a result.

    According to a recent survey conducted by Korea University, interns and residents work for 93 hours per week on average, more than double ordinary workers' 41 hours. They sleep for 5.4 hours a day and are on night duty for eight days a month.
    This means patients are exposed to a higher risk of medical errors. Some 89 percent of interns and 41.1 percent of residents have experienced dozing-off while on duty.
    To tackle this issue, the Ministry of Health and Welfare revised the regulations that trainees' work hours cannot exceed 88 per week last year. But as it was not legally binding, most hospitals have not followed the rules.
    Compared to other countries, Korea's trainee doctors' working conditions lag way behind.
    Interns in the United States work for 64 hours a week since the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) reduced the maximum allowable shift for them from 30 straight hours to 16. In Australia, they work for 55 hours weekly and in Japan, 45 hours.
    "There is a worldwide movement to curtail work hours because there is no doubt there is a link between the fatigue of doctors and misdiagnosis. We are trainees and at the same time laborers who should be protected by the Labor Law," Song said.
    However, hospitals have raised concerns over the bill, citing a lack of medical staff.
    "It is hard to reduce trainees' work hours without fixing the fundamental problems such as low medical fees and a lack of medical staff," the Korean Hospital Association said.

8/02-03/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. OSOS Employer Services, 8/02 New York State Department of Labor via STC-GRANT-Shared-Work-L1-Services.pdf
    [Here's a chunk of the procedure manual for the NY State worksharing program that made it to the Web -]
    ALBANY, N.Y., USA - OSOS [One-Stop Operating System] Business Services
    STC Grant (Short Time Compensation) Shared Work (SW) Sales Teams
    Service - Definition
    SW Customer Interest Source - A lead resulting in staff research identifying that a business should be contacted for possible Shared Work participation and other appropriate services. - [Comment] Staff should complete advance research before the initial contact with the business to anticipate service needs.
    SW: Interest Source BI [Business Intelligence] - Enter activity when staff conducts general BI research that identifies a businesses that will likely benefit from Shared Work participation. Note: Examples of sources include, but are not limited to: Alerts through Career Center system; OSOS; Layoff Aversion Dashboard; Company website (About Us webpage, recent press releases, etc.); Business information websites such as manta.com, glassdoor.com, etc.; Recent online media reports (local/national newswires, local Chambers of Commerce newsletter, etc.); Google; Social media; Partner agency; Business association; Chamber of Commerce - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity's Comments section. Note: Informally maintain date of research, source(s) and preliminary information.
    SW: Interest Source D & B [Dun & Bradstreet] Report - Enter activity when lead researched through the confidential monthly D&B Layoff Aversion monthly report. - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity's Comments section.
    SW: Interest Source EW [Early Warning] Report - Enter activity when lead researched through confidential EW weekly report. - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity's Comments section.
    SW: Interest Source Mass Mailing - Enter activity when lead resulted from NYSDOL [NY State Dept. of Labor] quarterly postcard mailing (two sided: Shared Work & Business Services) targeting industry sectors. - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity's Comments section. Note: Informally maintain date received and preliminary information.
    SW: Interest Source Info Phone# - Enter activity when lead referred from Shared Work sales phone number (518) 549-0495. Note: Phone number appears in post card and Shared Work webpage. Activity should not be taken if post card is the lead source. - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity's Comments section. Note: Informally maintain date received and preliminary information.
    SW: Interest Source Email Box - Enter activity when lead referred from Shared Work sales email box sharedworkinfo@labor.ny.gov. Note: Appears in post card and Shared Work webpage. Activity should not be taken if post card is the lead source. - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity's Comments section. Note: Informally maintain date received and preliminary information.
    SW: Interest Source Other Referral - Enter activity used when the received lead does not meet the definition of the other 6 options in this category. - [Comment] Do not record comments regarding this lead source in the Comments tab or in the Activity’s Comments section. Note: Informally maintain date of research, source(s) and preliminary information.
    SW Sales Contact - Staff initial telephone or interim outreach to a business considering the Shared Work Program. Interim outreach may be via telephone, email or field visit.
    SW: Initial Contact (Telephone) - Enter this activity when a meaningful discussion occurs with a business newly interested in Shared Work. Note: Develop a new Business Jacket if one does not already exist. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of initial discussion and presented services selectively offered. Indicate interest resulting, e.g., Shared Work, information materials sent and next step follow up.
    If business is considering expansion, document referring matter to Associate Business Services Representative for follow up and timely involvement with Career Center system, e.g. Shared Work interest, posting of job order(s); customized recruitment(s); NYS Job Bank; On-the-Job Training grant(s), tax credit(s), human resource consultation, etc..
    If business is considering layoffs, document referring matter to regional Rapid Response coordinator for follow up and planning early job placement (inclusive of appropriate training grant options) service before layoffs occur.
    SW: Interim Contact (Telephone) - Enter activity when scheduled to follow up (via email) with the business to check on the status of considering/applying for Shared Work. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of Shared Work consideration status.
    SW: Interim Contact (Field Visit) - Enter activity when scheduled to follow up (via field visit if requested by the business customer) to check on the status of considering/applying for Shared Work. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of Shared Work consideration status.
    SW Field Visit - Staff conducting a field visit to further explain Shared Work to management, labor union (if attached) and/or employees.
    Field Visit: Management/Union Presentation - Enter activity when conducting onsite to explain Shared Work to management and/or union representation. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of visit, describe business’ general response and planned next steps.
    Field Visit: Employee Presentation - Enter activity when conducting onsite visit to explain Shared Work to employees (prospective or current claimants). - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of visit, describe employee’s general response, number of attendees and planned next steps.
    SW Application Status - Stage of business’ Shared Work application status.
    SW: Application Submitted - Enter activity when Shared Work Program application has been submitted to L&D Unit for review and consideration. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date that the application was submitted.
    SW: Application Approved - Enter activity when Shared Work application has been approved by Liability & Determination (L&D) Unit. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date that the application was approved.
    SW Advisory Assistance - Staff answering questions by businesses/unions or employees applying/participating in Shared Work and employees. [huh?]
    SW: General Assistance to Business (Telephone) - Enter activity when answering (via telephone) standard/technical questions from a business regarding the application process or existing participation in Shared Work. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of question(s) and assistance provided.
    SW: General Assistance to Business (Email) - Enter activity when answering (via email) standard/technical questions from a business regarding the application process or existing participation in Shared Work. - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of question(s) and assistance provided.
    SW: Referral for Assistance (Business: L&D Unit) - Enter activity when a referral is made to L&D Unit for in-depth assistance to a business in the application process or currently participating in Shared Work. - [Comment] Do not record in Comments tab. Note: Informally maintain date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of question(s) and name/job title of L&D staff person receiving the referral. Follow up with the customer for quality assurance.
    SW: General Assistance to Employee (Telephone) - Enter this activity when answering (via telephone) standard/technical claimant questions from an employee currently participating in Shared Work - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of employee, concise summary of question(s) and assistance provided.
    SW: General Assistance to Employee (Email) - Enter activity when answering (via email) standard/technical claimant questions from an employee currently participating in Shared Work - [Comment] In the Comments tab, record date of contact, name/job title of employee, concise summary of question(s) and assistance provided.
    SW: Referral for Assistance (Employee: Shared Work Benefits Unit) - Enter activity when a referral is made to the Shared Work Benefits Unit for in-depth assistance to a claimant currently participating in Shared Work. - [Comment] Do not record in the Comments tab. Note: Informally date of contact, name/job title of business representative, concise summary of question(s) and name/job title of Shared Work Benefits Unit staff person receiving the referral. Follow up with the customer for quality assurance.

  2. Kurz-arbeit [short-time working/worksharing] in the Bous Steelworks, 8/03 SRonline.de via sr-online.de
    BOUS, Bav., Germany - The Bous Steelworks has registered for kurzarbeit. Since the beginning of July, the work stops for two days a week according to what CEO Franz Josef Schu told SRonline. The main reason is a big slump in pipeline business despite current low oil prices.
    Bous Steelworks is part of the Georgsmariensheds industrial group from Osnabrück and employs 360 workers. The catalyst of the current stressed situation in Bous is the low price of oil. The price of a barrel (159 liters) of NorthSea Brent has fallen about 25% since May and recently was holding at US$51.23.
    Hope for Autumn
    This decline in prices, in turn, makes pipeline operators creative. So they held back on investments, said Shu. Thus, the stressed situation of the oil industry is spreading from Bous and impacting suppliers. But nevertheless, Shu is pinning his hopes on new orders after the summer pause.
    Along with the kurzarbeit, workers must reckon with encroachment on their income. Works-council chairman Hans-Werner Glauben shared with SR that the morale of the workforce was strained.
    [Not as strained as it would be if they lost jobs and entire paychecks instead of just a couple of workdays a week and not even two fifths of their pay because the whole point of kurz-arbeit aka worksharing is to cushion the impact on employees as well as employers.]
    Key sector in the region
    Overall, the steel industry counts as one of the most important sectors of the Saar economy. According to the state government in the region. around 22,000 jobs directly or indirectly depend on the steel industry. In order to promote the steel industry, government, business and industrial unions in early July had presented a comprehensive 13-point position paper.
    (Caroline Uhl with data from Karin Mayer)

8/01/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. MP employees refuse to cope with five-day work culture, by Rajendra Sharma, (7/31 late pickup) TNN via Times of India via timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    BHOPAL, Mad.Prad., India: The Madhya Pradesh [MP] government is considering to implement five day working for state employees in order to enhance working hours and give two days holiday to relax. But, the employee unions have rejected this move stating it would put more burden on them.
    In order to increase efficiency and work culture of state employees the general administration department (GAD) has moved a proposal to the finance, in order to assess the impact and examine how much money could be saved on petrol, electricity, stationery and other expenses.
    State GAD minister Lal Singh Arya said government has received suggestions to curtail expenses so the move. He said nothing has been finalised so far. ``We have asked finance department to study [how] ``five day a week'' culture could enhance work efficiency in government offices'', he said. Government has given holidays on second and third Saturday which would be extended throughout the month. In such case, working hours will shift to 9 hours (9.30 am to 6.30 pm) from present 7 hours (10.30 am to 5.30 pm) a day, he said adding this would also mental stress among employees.
    Official calculation reveal, in current status employees work for 146 hours in a month. During five day week, working hours will increase to 180 a month.
    [So they're trying for a longer workday and workmonth disguised as a shorter workweek. But doing the math, the current situation involves a workyear of 146x12= 1752 hours, or (divided by 52) an average workweek of 33.7 hours, while the proposed "shorter" workweek involves a workyear of 180x12= 2160 hours, or an average workweek of 41.5 hours.]
    This exclude festivities and other holidays. Justifying the move, Arya said, ``A decision for a change will be taken after due consideration with employees and department heads''. The observations will be passed on to the cabinet for a suitable decision, he clarified.
    But state employees seem to be unhappy with the move. They say government has put a check on new appointments so they were already burdened. Dearth of staff has added to their woes as most of the employees are working late hours till night. ''In such case early timings would be more painful'', says Arun Dewvedi, regional president of class three employees association. The government should extend the retirement age and allow new openings in order to facilitate good working, he suggested.
    With government and employees at loggerheads, the new working plan doesn't seem to be fruitful, believes the officials.

  2. Fair Workweek Act could undermine economic development gains, ACI president says, by Dan Mayfield, (7/31 late pickup) Albuquerque Business First (blog) via bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog
    [The name "Fair Workweek Act" promises, in combination with vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into training&hiring, a workweek that varies homoestatically and inversely with unemployment to maintain full employment and jobs for all, however short a workweek that may require in the age of robotics. But in this case, alas that promise is not fulfilled -]
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., USA - The proposed Fair Workweek Act in Albuquerque could undermine the gains the state has made to help businesses, said Jason Espinoza, the new president of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry [ACI].
    The proposed act could require businesses to abandon just-in-time scheduling and instead schedule all workers several weeks out, as well as mandate sick leave accruals for some part-time employees.
    [JIT scheduling of humans is too brutal anyway except in relation to temp-agency employees, but it is best corrected flexibly by market forces in response to a single adjustment that reduces the surplus of unemployed people seeking 40-hr/wk jobs of which there may have been plenty in 1940 when the 40-hour workweek came in, but there certainly aren't in 2015, 75 years later in the age of robotics.]
    It's already been opposed by several business groups worried about increased costs of doing business. But, Espinoza said Friday, the issue has moved beyond the effects on individual businesses and into the economic development realm. He's worried, he said, that the act could undercut the gains developers scored to recruit new businesses here in the last few legislative sessions, which included adding funds to the state's job training efforts and increasing the closing fund.
    "But the Fair Workweek Act undermines all of that. It will drive businesses away of all kinds and it adds to the burden," Espinoza said. "It doesn't consider the need for flexibility and innovation in business."
    ACI, Espinoza said, has fielded several calls from the group's members with concerns.
    City Councilor Isaac Benton told Business First on Thursday that he and the bill's co-sponsor, Councilor Klarissa Peña, are working on a new substitute that addresses concerns of some industries. The substitute will be heard on August 10.
    "If it's adopted we believe it will chill innovation and hurt recruitments," Espinoza said.
    ACI is trying to meet with councilors to explain business owners' concerns, he said.
    "We look at these things in isolation," Espinoza said. "But when you look at the pile of burdens, it's a heavy load. What we would like to see is policymakers decrease the costs to business to allow more people in New Mexico more flexibility."
    [*Here's a description of the proposed ordinance -]
    As written, the 19-page proposed [Fair Workweek Act] would require employers to:
    • Post schedules in writing at least three weeks in advance for full- and part-time, seasonal and temporary employees.
    • Hold a secret-ballot vote for employees to adopt an alternative schedule, such as four 10-hour shifts or three 12-hour shifts.
    • Offer additional work to existing employees before hiring any new ones.
    • Allow employees to swap shifts at will.
    • Pay idle employees $150 every two weeks to keep them on the payroll when there’s no work.
    • Allow employees to accrue up to 56 hours of sick time a year.
    [This summary is from Editorial: Fair Workweek Act has little that’s fair or works, 6/25/2015 Albuquerque Journal via abqjournal.com]

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